As a nation we just bore witness to the brutal deaths of black Americans at the hands of some of our nation’s police officers. Again. The African American community remains vulnerable to senseless violence even as they are disproportionately dying from a global pandemic made more dangerous to them by the structural inequities of the US healthcare system.
The shocking and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in recent weeks have left our communities reeling and searching for answers. These horrific acts cut straight through the heart of our humanity, as we are reminded that racism is alive and well in America.
Racism continues its grip on our country like an incurable disease failing to respond to treatment. The challenge is how do we eradicate something that is so pervasive, so insidious, hiding beneath the surface until the flames are re-ignited.
As a community of medical educators, we are doctors, faculty, learners and staff, at the ready to train future physicians to provide care and comfort, to heal not just the wound but the whole person. We are also people who refuse to stand silent while innocent lives are taken. We choose to speak out against hate and injustice everywhere. We re-commit ourselves to educating and training future generations of health professionals who embody the whole fabric of our nation, not just to address disparities in healthcare, but also to improve the overall health of all people, especially those who are most vulnerable.
The osteopathic medical education community has an opportunity to be part of the answer, but change won’t happen unless everyone leans in. Listening creates awareness, awareness leads to openness, openness allows room for education and training, and education helps us all to think and act differently. Step one is to engage our staff, learners, faculty and others in an opportunity to not just listen, but to truly hear what is being said. But that’s not enough. It must also lead to other steps to help us actively seek out racism – overt and implicit – so that we can change our practices, reshape our focus and ultimately stamp it out by creating new ways of doing business.
We call on everyone in our communities to come to the table, as well as hold us accountable, as we work together to find ways to heal not only the body, but the heart as well.