Dear Community,

Today, our hearts are broken.  As two members of a small number of African-American faculty in the UCI School of Medicine, we find ourselves in tears yet again. We are filled with sadness, anger, and frustration. Emotions that truly are not served well by these words alone as we reflect on painful thoughts of the future and the safety of not only each of our Black sons and daughters, but also our colleagues, mentees, students and friends.

As we experience the plague of racism in a form as palpable as the coronavirus pandemic, we acknowledge a key difference. Racism is not new. It is not novel. Racism, hate, and the murder of Black people have occurred for decades. Many Black students, residents, fellows, professors, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and administrators, have experienced or heard of horrible narratives of injustice that have affected them personally or the lives of loved ones. Sadly, now with the help of social media, we are all a part of a shared painful narrative as the implications of hate are in clear sight.

Although we have been in a place like this many times before, this time it is different. It is harder to understand. We are exhausted as we continue to process the trauma, the racism, and hurt surrounding the murder of George Floyd and so many others in the African-American community at the hands of law enforcement. Recent events, along with trying to fight our way through a pandemic with an increased impact on vulnerable communities, have taken a toll on us as a country and, in particular, as health providers – as a medical community.

In this, we ask that all of us come together as a community and reach out to each other and in particular, reach out to those of us that may be experiencing despair, fear, and frustration in the aftermath of all of these tragedies.  We have to take care of ourselves and take care of each other, so that we can continue to care for others.

As physicians and a health community broadly, we work to provide optimal health care for all. Yet, in doing so, we must acknowledge that racism impacts health. It is a health issue. Racism is a chronic disease, which when unaddressed or ignored, has catastrophic consequences. It is a root cause of health inequities for Black people who carry disproportionate burdens of cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, preterm births, and infant mortality, and it is a pervasive social issue impacting the individual health and well-being of us all.

As we reflect on all that we listen to as health providers, clinicians, educators, advocates, mentors, learners, and citizens, and acknowledge that now it is time to make sure everyone’s voices are heard, we recognize that we also need to come together as a medical community and be heard.  We need to listen to the voices of those silenced by inequities in health care and society. We have to be a voice for the needs and welfare of African, Black and Caribbean communities and act to eliminate health disparities and injustice broadly.

The deaths of Black Americans, at the hand of the police, were deaths that were enabled by a deeply rooted system of racial inequity and discrimination in our country. We must root out racism and root out hate from our systems and circles of influence. We must be the change that we, and all of the communities we serve, deserve.

Although it is hard to stand right now while carrying the weight of all that is going on. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Stand with us in LEAD-ABC by signing your name here in affirmation of your commitment to social justice, health equity, and inclusion. We are in this together and will continue to stand.

Stand against racism. Stand against hate. Stand for love. Stand for unity.

 

Respectfully,

Candice Taylor Lucas, MD, MPH, FAAP

Health Sciences, Associate Clinical Professor

UCI School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center

Associate Program Director,

UCI-CHOC Pediatric Residency Program

Co-Director, Leadership Education to Advance Diversity – African, Black, and Caribbean (LEAD – ABC)

UC Irvine School of Medicine

Carol Major, MD, FACOG

Clinical Professor

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Division Director, Maternal Fetal Medicine

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence

Co-Director, Leadership Education to Advance Diversity – African, Black, and Caribbean (LEAD – ABC)

UCI School of Medicine