I was driving in the car with my friend who’s a health educator like me. I told her how excited I was to be working on a new initiative with indigenous communities in our state.

She responded, “Really? There’s so much drug use in those communities. Do you think you’ll even be able to make a difference?”

I was shocked and unable to respond in the moment.

Anger bubbled up in me and my heart broke a little bit when I realized that these beliefs are so common in society that even my friend, who works in the field of health equity like I do, feels that way. I wish I had the presence of mind to make a difference in moments like that by standing up for people who have faced genocide and oppression over generations and then they’re slapped with a label.