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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

The Time is Now

June 8th, 2020

Last week was a tough one.

It is extraordinarily sad, and indeed heartbreaking that we are still seeing such terrible acts of discrimination and violence across our country. It’s infuriating and frustrating that black people, brown people, and people of all colors – are not treated with respect and dignity, and are not treated fairly. It’s unthinkable that people are dying for no reason at all, except for being who they are.

These recent displays of racism must be a call to bring us together to continue having critical discussions about equity, humanity and the values that define who we are and what we will tolerate in our communities. As difficult as all of this may be, awkward and sometimes uncomfortable discussions are paramount to finding our way to a more inclusive and equitable climate.

I won’t pretend to have any idea of what people of color and marginalized populations experience on a daily basis. I have never experienced anything similar, nor am I likely to. Even as I see, read, or learn about these experiences I know I may not understand the full implications of what is shared with me.

The only way I can raise my cultural awareness, expand my perspective, and deepen my empathy, is to proactively seek and listen to the experiences of others, and do my best to learn from them.

As an academic institution, continuous learning and discovery are fundamentally at our core. There is no time more demanding than right now for us to lean on this core value to increase our awareness and understanding of systemic racism, unconscious bias, and how we can be allies. We need to learn from the people who are victims of marginalization, and have a better understanding of the world from their lens and vantage point. Last Friday’s Town Hall was an excellent example of that.

Now is the time, for people like me – who have not and will never be subjected to this extreme racism and violence –  to step up, be accountable and take responsibility for what is within our sphere of influence to change and disrupt.

Now is the time when leaders must commit to changing systems, structures, and processes that foster inequities. We must become proactively involved, and not just reactive, to discrete incidents of tragedy.

Now is the time for all of us on an individual level to become involved. Our involvement might be a show of compassion, a bystander intervention, or an acknowledgement of our own prejudices. Whatever it is, it must be something we commit to do and stand by every single day.

The time is now.

Community dialogue is important during these times. Feel free to share your comments in the discussion box below.