Name of AAPI FigureVivek Murthy
What is the person’s Asian heritage or ethnicity?Indian
Area of Influence19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States
Date of birth or time period10-Jul-77
How did this individual make a contribution to their field or to society/culture at large?The US Surgeon General leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States and so sets the tone for the healthcare priorities of the nation. Murthy is the first surgeon general of Indian descent and, during his first term as surgeon general, he was the youngest active duty flag officer in federal uniformed service while serving in office. He has been active in using his platform to advocate for vulnerable populations. He called out gun violence and gun availability. He openly talks about mental health including his own struggles with loneliness. He spoke the truth about e-cigarettes. He condemned the harmful practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth and worked with President Obama to develop policies to protect transgender students in public schools. He also worked on other issues including the proliferation of opioids, Ebola and Zika viruses, the Flint water crisis, and of course now he is busy with COVID.
Why did you choose this person? What about their story speaks to you?This guy speaks the truth. He finally said what so many of us are thinking — that the proliferation of guns is a public health crisis. That’s not a political statement, that’s a factual statement. It nearly derailed his Senate confirmation process in 2014.
How does this person inspire you?He inspires me because he is willing to take political heat and speak up which is probably a bad idea for anyone who works in politics, and even more risky when you are not White and there is a built in bias against people of color expressing too many opinions. He also inspires me because he was open and honest about his mental health struggles. This is important for all of America and particularly for the Asian community where people don’t always talk about that issue or seek help. Asian Americans are often taught to be strong and stoic and hide their individual pain and trauma, partly because the expectations are set by the model minority myth where academic achievement and not rocking the boat is prioritized over individual happiness.
What surprised you as you were learning about this person?I was surprised to learn that he is based in MA. I was also surprised to learn that he has mental health struggles.
Resources to share if others want to learn more (optional)–list websites, books, or other resources you used to learn about the person
Submitted byAnonymous
City, StateLexington, MA