The Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) of the University of Florida College of Medicine would like to add our united voice to the growing cries against racism in all its forms and in every place it finds a foothold in our world. We echo the message of our UF Health leadership in acknowledging the pain felt by the Black community. We accept the call-to-action by UF President Fuchs to use our sphere of influence to effect change. The words of the mayor of Atlanta describing the “layers of pain” felt by the Black community in her city resonate with our women faculty. As doctors, we recoil at the images of the brutal treatment of George Floyd recognizing his fear and suffering as he begged for the most basic of human needs. As academics, we cringe at the statistics reflecting our inability to successfully increase engagement of young Black scholars into medicine and science. The tragic downstream consequences of this failure are demonstrated, once again, by the race-related health disparities of the COVID-19 crisis.
We are women of science and medicine, brought together by our own struggles to emerge from decades of gender-based inequities that stifled our personal and professional growth. From this perspective, we commend the strong Black women who have spoken out to lead their constituencies through this crisis including Atlanta’s mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the Rev. Bernice King, and our own Gainesville resident Aeriel Lane who organized the “March for Our Freedom” rally this past weekend. Finally, as mothers, we recognize the added worry of raising Black children in America, enduring heightened fear every time our babies leave home. This added layer of concern is experienced by many families within our own UF community. Our hearts ache as we acknowledge their pain, strength, and devotion.
As a group, WIMS has worked to address implicit bias in our healthcare system, to engage and encourage at-risk high school students to consider careers in medicine and science, and to promote an equitable academic environment. While we are proud of this work, it is clearly not enough. We recommit to promoting diversity in all of our initiatives. As we embark on a new academic year, let’s think outside of our current scope to fulfill the vision of our UF Health leaders, and to rise to President Fuchs’ call-to-action. Let’s work together to have an impact locally and support national efforts to promote racial justice.
Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS)
College of Medicine
Highlighting Black Women for their leadership in this crisis:
- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sethcohen/2020/05/30/atlantas-keisha-lance-bottoms-is-the-mayor-and-mother-america-needs-right-now/?fbclid=IwAR1FYMC9YYeQAKP6jvvr9fGzBKUie8UA7qkp7UDIT_dkyaDV6ZgVFjaMoe4#5df305f061ce
- Rev Bernice King: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0zdmGRMTMo&fbclid=IwAR2vtbFh0gCmj19mL5OoxbvfgeKzCk0FVCPNO8jSF_BRfcmpSWAOiue_Tp8
- Gainesville resident Aeriel Lane, who organized the March for FREEDOM this past weekend: https://www.wcjb.com/content/news/March-For-Our-Freedom-rallies-more-than-a-thousand-members-570855541.html
Talking to kids about race/racism:
Women leaders and their superior response to COVID-19: https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2020/04/13/what-do-countries-with-the-best-coronavirus-reponses-have-in-common-women-leaders/?fbclid=IwAR3my8YFzcrsQUsizfax5AiM6AgyuDiuDt2ZiAW64aOHYYD_8u2-5c64sl0#180b6b7d3dec
AAMC Statement on Police Brutality and Racism in America and Their Impact on Health
Washington, D.C., June 1, 2020—David J. Skorton, MD, president and CEO of the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and David A. Acosta, MD, AAMC chief diversity and inclusion officer, released the following statement:
“For too long, racism has been an ugly, destructive mark on America’s soul. Throughout our country’s history, racism has affected every aspect of our collective national life—from education to opportunity, personal safety to community stability, to the health of people in our cities large and small, and in rural America.
Over the past three months, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the racial health inequities harming our black communities, exposing the structures, systems, and policies that create social and economic conditions that lead to health disparities, poor health outcomes, and lower life expectancy.
Now, the brutal and shocking deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shaken our nation to its core and once again tragically demonstrated the everyday danger of being black in America. Police brutality is a striking demonstration of the legacy racism has had in our society over decades. This violence has eroded trust of the police within black and other communities of color who are consistently victims of marginalization, focused oppression, racial profiling, and egregious acts of discrimination.
Our country must unite to combat and dismantle racism and discrimination in all its forms and denounce race-related violence, including police brutality. Enough is enough.
As healers and educators of the next generation of physicians and scientists, the people of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals bear the responsibility to ameliorate factors that negatively affect the health of our patients and communities: poverty, education, access to transportation, healthy food, and health care.
Racism is antithetical to the oaths and moral responsibilities we accepted as health professionals who have dedicated our lives to advancing the health of all, especially those who live in vulnerable communities.
As leaders of anchor institutions in our communities, academic medicine’s physicians, educators, hospital leaders, faculty, researchers, learners, and staff must lead by example and take bold action in partnership with the communities we serve:
- We must acknowledge and speak out against all forms of racism, discrimination, and bias in our environments in our institutions, communities, and society.
- We must stand in solidarity with the black community and speak out against unjust and inhumane incidents of violence.
- We must demonstrate empathy and compassion and acknowledge the pain and grief that the families and the communities of these victims are experiencing.
- We must take the lead in educating ourselves and others to address these issues head on.
- We must be deliberate and partner with local communities, public health agencies, and municipal governments to dismantle structural racism and end police brutality.
- We must employ anti-racist and unconscious bias training and engage in interracial dialogues that will dispel the misrepresentations that dehumanize our black community members and other marginalized groups.
- We must move from rhetoric to action to eliminate the inequities in our care, research, and education of tomorrow’s doctors.
The AAMC stands against racism and hate in all its forms, and we call on academic medicine to stand together on this issue. We are committed to harnessing all of our resources to catalyze meaningful and lasting solutions. We can no longer be bystanders. We must not be silent. But while our solidarity is necessary, it is not sufficient. Together, and in partnership with the communities we serve, we must work together to heal our nation.”
This statement is available online here.
The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members comprise all 155 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their 173,000 faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences. Additional information about the AAMC and its member medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at aamc.org.