Dear Yale Pediatrics Community,
When will it stop? When will unarmed persons of color stop losing their lives at the hands of police for non-violent crimes or during everyday activities that we all take for granted? We are outraged and tired when a man like Ahmaud Arbery gets shot and killed while jogging because white men thought he looked suspicious. We are outraged and tired of waking up to read that an EMT Breonna Taylor was shot by police as she slept when they raided the wrong home. We are outraged and tired when the words “I can’t breathe” have no meaning when spoken by George Floyd. Yet outrage and tiredness fall short in trying to describe what so many communities of color here and elsewhere are experiencing right now.
It would be naïve to assume that within the confines of our Pediatrics Department, clinics or hospital we are shielded or safe from these feelings. What can be done? Who should be the one(s) to do whatever is needed? How can we balance outrage with optimism while fighting against the injustice all at once?
While we certainly don’t have all the answers, we refuse to remain passive. Let’s not continue to be part of the problem. Let us not be afraid to critically appraise ourselves and engage in reflection of our own conscious and unconscious racist beliefs and actions. Call things by their name. Call out racism when you see it and if you don’t want to use the word or if you are unsure, then call out the behavior— describe what you see. Don't make any more excuses. Don't think this doesn't affect you. Don't sit back and be silent. Don't think you can't be part of the change. Please, let's all be part of the change. And if you don’t feel comfortable calling it out in the moment, then any of us — your leadership — whose responsibility it is to do so for you.
We commit to continue to create a safe space for our students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff to share their experiences and emotions. We value diversity and openly will not tolerate racism.
What we are witnessing in Minnesota, Georgia, Louisiana, and the rest of the nation is simply unacceptable. Continuously seeing the lives of people of color end on 24/7 news and the internet is both traumatic and damaging. It is especially taxing for marginalized communities and people of color. COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting African Americans and Latinos in our country, this in part due to systemic racism and policies that leave urban communities in poverty, working low-wage essential jobs with little protection, and with poor air quality and poorer health outcomes. This also affects those who we care for at work: children. Before the pandemic, a study found nearly 10 million American kids live in low-opportunity neighborhoods, with limited access to good schools, parks and healthy food. Health experts also know that repeated viewing racist acts of violence can trigger mental health conditions and impact one’s overall health. It might be hard to not feel like you, your partner, or your friends or family, are always somehow in danger.
What can you do if you if you do not feel directly targeted by racism? Be an Ally! Sign up for the “5 Ally Actions” newsletter suggested by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Please continue to seek out resources to learn ways to best support underrepresented groups in your orbit and in your communities.
We all want to be informed, but we also need to protect ourselves and our mental wellness. It’s important to set boundaries on your media consumption, and to find an outlet for your anger or grief around the compounding tragedies we continue to see. If you are struggling at any time, please know there are resources to help you through.
CRISIS TEXT LINE - Text “Brave” to 741-741
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE - Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
DISASTER DISTRESS HELPLINE - Call 1-800-985-5990
In closing, it’s hard to be unaffected by the inequality that permeates every facet of our society. It’s normal for it to bother you, to make you feel sad or anxious. But your voices are important, and the world needs to hear you. Please continue to speak out on injustice and reach out to us when you need guidance or have questions. We are here to support you in any way. We are a team and we’ll get through this together, with hope for a better world for everyone on the other side.
Cliff and Marietta