Equity Challenge Reflections: Kara Dison

Published on June 16, 2021 in ,

When Kara Dison was a young mother, she aged out of her parents’ health insurance plan. Unable to afford private insurance on her waitressing income, she went on Medicare. In an overcrowded waiting room and during the rushed doctor visit that followed, she noticed for the first time the stark inequity in health care.

“I looked around and saw that I was the minority,” said Kara, who is white. “I realized that the quality of care is not the same and the doctors you have access to are not the same just because of income, and it’s even worse if you’re a person of color.”

Eighteen years later and now a mental health professional who works with inmates, she says the inequality is still glaring.

Kara hopes exercises like the 21-Day Equity Challenge will open the eyes of others, especially those in health care and law enforcement.

She acts as an advocate for inmates, which she says often puts her at odds with people in more traditional law enforcement positions.

“There are a lot of discriminatory things that happen in the jails. It’s race. It’s mental health and trauma. It’s gender bias. You name it. And even when positive changes are happening, the people who have been around for a long time aren’t always comfortable with that,” she said.

Kara says the daily email content from the challenge helps her have more informed conversations at the water cooler and the lunch table.

“It’s nice to have quick videos I can share and facts to back up what I’m saying so I don’t just sound like the younger, know-it-all liberal when I’m trying to get people to change.”

Kara says a key part of her role is “promoting life,” yet she understands that not every person has an equal chance at living.

“I really hope that people understand that social justice is justice,” she said. For this reason, she advocates for mandating a diversity challenge for everyone who works in law enforcement. “It’s needed before people get in trouble — not after.”