Happy New Year!
Jan 4, 2021 12:00 PM
We are delighted that you have taken the time to read our newsletter and are grateful for your support and camaraderie over the last year.
2020 was a horrifying year. COVID-19 took over 300,000 Americans and people of color are disproportionately represented among them. Systemic anti-Black racism and violence also claimed the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. We will say their names, remember them, and demand change from the power structures that allow their murders to go unpunished. We will also not forget that 2021, although it is a new year, has not brought a slowdown of the virus, nor has it changed the pervasive anti-Black racism that affects our nation so profoundly.
The events of January 6, 2021, are a painful illustration of this. All through 2020, we saw all continued police violence against peaceful protesters supporting Black Lives Matter. Then, in 2021, we watched the police essentially allow mostly white protestors to seize the U.S. Capitol Building, resulting in at least four deaths. The violence inflicted on Black peaceful protestors contrasts significantly with the patience and restraint exhibited when the protesters were not associated with a "Black" cause. This tells me that there is still more to do and that systemic anti-Black racism still affects decision-making at the highest levels.
Despite all of these woeful events, I am optimistic about our future. Within health sciences, we have seen an increase in engagement in the cause of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Anti-racism is no longer seen as the exclusive purview of people of color, and our white allies have come out in full force to eliminate systemic racism that has benefitted them in the past. This is monumental because success in the battle to eliminate systemic racism and systemic injustice requires that those of us who have benefitted from that system to reject it. As a Latinx male, I recognize that a system of systemic sexism has benefitted me—and because of that, I continue to work to change the system to be fair today and make up for the wrongs of the past.
The vaccine has provided some optimism as well. As a healthcare professional that still sees patients, I was near the front of the line. I am delighted to see that my colleagues in environmental services were offered the vaccine even before I was, which is both a recognition of their often-overlooked contributions and a strong move towards equity. Soon, the vaccine will be available to all of us. If we all accept it when offered, we will have a very different 2021.
In the meantime, we mourn with those who have lost loved ones, become ill, or been victims of violence. We see the light at the end of this tunnel and invite you to work with us to make that light a bright spot in our lives. May 2021 bring peace, a return to an improved normal, and a COVID-free future. We hope to enjoy time with you this year via Zoom and, hopefully in a not too distant future, in person.