I am writing to note the intense pain caused by a string of horrific killings (George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor), which is first and foremost piled upon our minority communities, particularly African Americans. As a white man I do not fear police, nor do I need to navigate the myriad dangers and indignities foisted routinely on minority populations due to my privilege. However, it is clear that the majority population can no longer turn away from the harsh reality of systemic racism. The murder of George Floyd last week by a Minneapolis police officer has transformed our nation, and insurrection, injury and destruction have spread to many of our cities, including Baltimore and Washington, D.C. We find ourselves at a singular moment where a pandemic and a broken justice system have laid bare the terrible disparities directed against African Americans, and that attack the substance and potential of our society. We will never live in peace and prosperity without broad resolution of these issues.

Now more than ever, our department needs to manifest its potential to be a source of strength and healing. Each of us, all of us, must capture this opportunity to move our university, health system, community and nation to a better place. I am very grateful for what we have accomplished. Many of us are working on the front lines to save patients stricken with COVID-19, a disease disproportionately afflicting and killing minority persons. Many of us are engaged in activities to vanquish health disparities, and to attain a more just society in our neighborhoods and worldwide. These remarkable efforts need to expand and deepen.

We in the majority need to acknowledge the pain, humanity and vulnerability of our minority colleagues. Here I am asking every member of our great department to act as a critical source of strength and support to one another. This is a time to take advantage of opportunities to know and support the persons with whom you work. Learn one another’s stories and struggles, and use this information to become more aware and engaged. I look forward to working with Dr. Sherita Golden, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and a longtime member of our department, and Dr. Deidra Crews, Associate Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, and Chair of the Department of Medicine Diversity Council to better support our minority members, engage allies among our majority and to become an ever more effective and just Department of Medicine.

Please be kind; be safe; stay well,
Mark

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