Racial Injustice – Statement

Dear Colleagues,

Recent events surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have raised strong emotion and deep concern about issues of injustice, social inequities, and racism. We understand that this is a painful time particularly for the black community and to everyone who values the dignity of every human life regardless of color or creed. These events remind us that elements of injustice and racism continue to exist in our society at large and most probably around us.

As a department rooted in core values of compassion and respect for all people, we want our staff, trainees, and faculty to know that we see, hear, and feel your pain. We are in this together. While words and emotions may abound at a time like this, we want to ensure that these words are translated into actions that produce meaningful change to make our institution a more welcoming place for everyone, every marginalized group, and every race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr– “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We want to welcome a conversation about these issues as the first step to combating the pain and inequities we face. We encourage everyone to lend a voice to this conversation. Let’s not be afraid to begin an open discussion about inequities and social biases that affect us and the patients we care for.  Be the voice that speaks out against inequity and injustice when you see it overtly, covertly, or on a systemic level.  “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” MLK

Secondly, we encourage us all to be a light in the midst of darkness, to overcome hate with love. We cannot overcome injustice with more injustice. The solution is in standing strong on our core values of compassion and respect for all people. The solution is to overturn systemic injustice, discrimination, and inequality. As difficult as it may be, let us strive to be the light and the love to those around us by showing value and respect for all people. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” MLK.

Finally, our doors are open to anyone who wants to talk about solutions or initiatives on diversity and inclusion within our department. We are open to listening to all who feel unheard and marginalized. Our diversity and inclusion council aims to improve sponsorship of minorities into leadership positions and to develop a mutual relationship with our diverse local and regional communities. We have started an education series that aims to help our residents and staff to identify biases and to work on affecting systemic changes to decrease disparities and biases in our department. Please reach out to any of us in the diversity and inclusion council.

Remember our core value of “strength through diversity”.

Together we are strong.

Tirisham Gyang, MD

Diego Rincon-Limas, PhD

Wissam Deeb, MD

Maria Bruzzone, MD

Marc Alain Babi, MD

Alexis Simpkins, MD, PhD

Adolfo Ramirez-Zamora, MD

Diversity and inclusion council

Department of Neurology

University of Florida