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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

It’s All of Us

June 19th, 2020

When we consider that our fight against racism is as old as our nation itself, it’s extremely frustrating that centuries later we still see injustices deeply embedded within our institutions and culture.  Despite this, I do feel encouraged and hopeful when I see a broader outpouring of support as people of all colors and walks of life come together in solidarity to courageously speak out against racial injustice. It will take all of us to fight this battle.

We see courageous moments every day here at Michigan Medicine as people continue to engage in conversation, acknowledge their biases, share resources among allies, demand reforms and protest inequities. Today, we hosted a Juneteenth Tribute and The Women of Color Task Force invited the community to a town hall. Over the past several weeks we have supported numerous panel discussions, community conversations and educational events, including our Michigan Medicine town hall.

These activities inspire us to action. Let’s not lose that inspiration.

I recognize that I, along with other senior leaders, are in a unique position of influence to lead these efforts going forward. We acknowledge this responsibility and will be meeting with community groups and racial equality advocates to jointly develop and support action plans going forward.

I will tell you that any future action plans, with all good intentions, will not succeed unless we all actively partner together in this effort. If we want to dismantle structural racism within our institution and community, we have to recognize that racism is everywhere. It can be found in the classroom, the emergency room and the board room. As Dr. Robin Di Angelo, author of “White Fragility,” stated, “There is no racist free space where we can go and not be surrounded by it.”  

To combat it, we must fight from all sides. This work is not just the job for people of color. It is not just the job for those who have diversity, inclusion or inequity in their job title. It is a job for all of us. We must all do the work.  

What can you do immediately?

  1. Become informed. U-M Organizational Learning has launched an “Anti-Racism Crash Course: What Can I Do?” I highly recommend it.
  2. Talk about race.  Practice uncomfortable conversations. Invite people of all colors, political affiliations, economic and organizational levels into the discussion. We can’t work in solidarity until we understand each other.  Read: Dear White People
  3. Acknowledge the problem. We are not living in a post-racial society. Our society is rooted in racism (listen to 1619) and continues to exist both openly and covertly. Call out racism when you see/hear it. None of us can afford to be compliant or naive.

 Culture change begins with us. All of us.

What suggestions do you have for building solidarity within Michigan Medicine and our community? Share them with me in the discussion box below. 

2 Comments

  • I am now retired in SW WA. In late June I ‘attended’ a meeting of the King County Council Law and Justice Cmte where a panel of medical professionals (some at U of WA) gave an amazing, moving, informative presentation on race, policing, and public health. It is nearly 35 min. but definitely worth it. I have notes. Write back if you want them. But listening directly is powerful. Think of it as a podcast. Share widely, please. Good luck in all that you do!

    Racism and Police Violence as a Public Health Crisis June 24, 2020
    By Medical professionals at King County Council (county with Seattle)

    Link: http://king.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=8179

    Choose item 6 on agenda at left. It will put you at the panel, 1:05-1:38 in the tape.

    • Thank you, Rheta for sharing this panel discussion. It is very enlightening to listen to these discussions from other medical institutions who are also working to address racial disparities in our nation’s health care system. This panel is very similar to several we have had here at Michigan Medicine and within the University of Michigan. I am very proud of the conversations we are having and the work we are doing as part of our newly-formed Anti-Racism Oversight Committee. It takes all of us working together to change the culture. I am glad you are continuing on your journey of lifelong learning throughout your retirement!

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