Valuing Inclusion

As individuals, we come to work focused on our mission of delivering the most advanced and compassionate care, pushing the boundaries of medicine through innovation and discovery, training the next generation of health care professionals, and making a difference in the health of the communities we serve, locally and globally. For some, the events in the external environment can challenge our focus, especially when what is happening conflicts with our values.

Every patient, family member, visitor and employee who comes to the Brigham should be treated with warmth, dignity and respect. Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD, is proud to reaffirm this as one of our institutional values and invites all staff to share their thoughts about what inclusion at the Brigham means to them, as well as their hopes for a brighter future.

Please note that comments will be moderated. We ask all contributors be respectful and professional when expressing their views. Thank you.

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29 Responses to “Valuing Inclusion”

  1. Betsy Nabel, MD

    some_text As events unfolded across our great nation in recent months, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the concept of a moral compass. To me, a moral compass is an internalized set of values that guide us ethically – in the decisions we make and in how we conduct ourselves – every day. It is what grounds us, particularly in challenging times.

    I have the privilege of leading an organization that is guided by its moral compass. We live our values each day. I want to be very clear that we will not allow anyone or anything to affect who we are – our mission, vision or values – or what we stand for. Brigham and Women’s Hospital will continue to be a safe, welcoming place for all who come through our doors. Racism, hatred and intolerance have no place at the Brigham.

    While no one can predict the future, I suspect we will continue to be challenged by events happening in the world around us. Together, we must continue to follow our moral compass and work in unity to deliver on our precious mission for the benefit of our patients, their families, and one another.

    — Betsy Nabel, MD, President, Brigham Health

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  2. Wanda McClain, MPA

    some_text As the vice president for Community Health and Health Equity and as a co-chair of the Brigham Health Social Justice and Equity Task Force, I am firmly committed to standing on the side of what is morally right. This is not values-neutral for me as an African-American woman. Hate, in all its ugly forms, is wrong—we must speak out against it. Bigotry, racism, discrimination, anti-Semitism, sexism and bias against immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community are an affront to our humanity—we must not tolerate them. The values and aspirations of our country are equality, liberty and the protection of basic human rights. Our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters have suffered, fought and died to advance and protect these values. We must be unequivocal in speaking out against hate and commit ourselves to living up to the ideals that have made this country a beacon of hope and opportunity for many. I will continue, as a leader dedicated to promoting health equity, to work with others at BWH to ensure we live out our mission and values within the Brigham and within our communities.

    — Wanda McClain, MPA, Vice President, Community Health and Health Equity, Co-chair Brigham Health Social Justice and Equity Task Force

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  3. Daphne Haas-Kogan, MD, and Brandon Mahal, MD

    some_text Brandon and I found ourselves conversing this weekend about how sad we feel about the general tenor of discourse in our country today. We reflected on how expressions of rancor and acrimony have affected each of us personally and how they might affect our colleagues and patients. I (Daphne) am the child of two Holocaust survivors who lost their entire families to the evils of the Nazis and, as such, I have made it central to my life to impart values of inclusion, openness, and mutual-respect. I (Brandon) am a proud multiracial child of an immigrant parent and grandparents who came to America on asylum to work as farm-hands; my family and my experience with explicit and implicit forms of racism has motivated me to pursue a path dedicated to the service of those in need and to act as a voice against hate and bigotry.

    The demonstrations of intolerance that we have all witnessed are meant to incite fear and to cause divide. They are hurtful to experience and can have a deep and threatening impact on many in this country, including our colleagues and patients.

    Our departmental and institutional values are such that we openly denounce and take a stand against displays of ignorant intolerance, hate, or bigotry. We are committed to our community and our goal to provide world-class care to our diverse patient population. We provide a safe place of tolerance, unity, peace, and support that allows us to work toward our ultimate mission. Together we will drown out fear and root out hate with the warmth, commitment, dedication, and appreciation we show toward each other and toward our patients. Day in and day out, you carry out one of the most important missions one can imagine—alleviating pain and suffering, and this places you as leaders committed to kindness and respect.

    — Daphne Haas-Kogan, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; and Brandon Mahal, MD, Resident, Harvard Radiation Oncology Program

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  4. Antonio E. Chiocca, MD, PhD

    some_text Having been born abroad and having moved to this country as a student, I feel very fortunate about how inclusive and tolerant the USA is. I must say that having traveled quite a bit, we are very fortunate that our legacy, traditions and culture are much more inclusive and diverse than those of most other nations around the globe. If there was one area for American exceptionalism, this is the one and the Brigham embodies it! Yet, we must not sit on our laurels and we must continue to strive to increase and foster our inclusion and diversity of cultures, traditions, religions, speech, accents, origins and thought and ensure our unwavering commitment to these values.

    — Antonio E. Chiocca, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Neurosurgery

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  5. James D. Kang, MD

    some_text As an immigrant to this country from South Korea, I have to say that my parents came over for an opportunity for a better life for their kids… something that we all share in common throughout the history of the United States. Having been the recipient of the wonderful opportunities provided in America, I feel compelled to lead by example and treat all people who live in this great country equally and with dignity and respect. No one should be deprived of such basic human rights because they come from a culture, ethnicity, or social background that may be different than what we individually are comfortable with. Human diversity is what gives us strength, and if we all channel our energy into good deeds, rather than pointing fingers and trying to behave as we are superior to others, I think we can really highlight what is good in human nature and subjugate the darker tendencies that at times seem to creep in. Our culture at the Brigham is something I think we can all be proud of. In spite of the national movement that seems to be surfacing due to poor leadership from our elected representatives, I firmly believe that we have the right moral compass and the leadership to persevere through these seemingly challenging times.

    — James D. Kang, MD, Chair, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Thornhill Family Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School

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  6. Sabrina Williams, MBA

    some_text As I reflect on what inclusion has meant to me in my life, I think about being Caribbean-American and what that means. It means being an immigrant, being Catholic (although not practicing currently), being influenced by Bob Marley’s music and lyrics, being a lover of warm weather and the list goes on. I have struggled over time to define myself. Am I Caribbean, Caribbean-American, African-American or just me? In the end, I am all of these things and more. What I have learned is that inclusion starts with me embracing all of who I am and the richness that offers. By doing that, I have grown in my willingness to accept and embrace others, which is the first step in being inclusive. I have seen a similar growth here at the Brigham. Inclusion is one of our core values. Issues such as health equity are part of who we are. We are exploring ways to become even more culturally competent in how we deliver care. With our commitment to service excellence, we have a wonderful opportunity to enhance how our patients and our employees experience the Brigham. These are exciting times.

    — Sabrina Williams, MBA, Interim Vice President of Human Resources, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Brigham Health

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  7. Terrie E. Inder, MD, MBChB

    some_text As an immigrant and new citizen of the United States, I aim to contribute every day to this wonderful country, city and our Brigham community. Our diversity brings unique solutions and strengths in many dimensions. May we always include with respect and gratitude diversity within our Brigham family, our city and our shared nation.

    — Terrie E. Inder, MD, MBChB, Chair, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Mary Ellen Avery Professor of Pediatrics in the Field of Newborn Medicine, Harvard Medical School

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  8. Erin McDonough, MBA

    some_text When my paternal grandmother emigrated from Ireland to Boston in 1914 at the age of 19 – crossing the ocean alone, in steerage – she was met with hatred, bigotry and intolerance. Shop windows in Boston displayed signs that read “No blacks. No Irish. No dogs.” and “Help wanted: No Irish need apply.” It breaks my heart when I imagine what those days must have been like for her. Her experiences shaped our family’s values. From a very young age, my family instilled in me that every human is entitled to dignity and respect, and that anyone who assumes superiority is arrogant.

    One of the many things I love about working at the Brigham is that our values are on display every day. We foster a culture of inclusion, professionalism and collaboration. We meet challenges with integrity and transparency, and we infuse empathy into all that we set out to accomplish. It makes me proud to be part of an organization that does such important work in such a heartfelt way.

    — Erin McDonough, MBA, Senior Vice President, Chief Communication Officer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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  9. Martin A. Samuels, MD, DSc(hon), FAAN, MACP, FRCP, FANA

    some_text I just observed the solar eclipse. One can easily imagine what ancient peoples thought when observing such a powerful event. Could it be that the sun would never return? But, alas, it always does. When caught up in current events like the senseless murders in Barcelona and the promulgation of hate as occurred in Charlottesville, one can easily become fearful that reason and righteousness will be gone forever. But, good works speak for themselves and are self-fulfilling. Our work in medicine is to care for the sick. There is no higher goal or more virtuous way to spend one’s life. By sticking together and always keeping that goal in mind, we can reverse the current wave of frustration and anger and replace it with optimism and hope. We here at the Brigham are all immigrants with one thing in common: the wish to reduce human suffering caused by disease. If we can just keep this in mind every day and remember how fortunate we are to be in this place and to be given the opportunity to serve in this fashion, that effort will be a force for good in the world. Yes, with our enduring commitment to keep our eye on the ball, the sun will reemerge.

    — Martin A. Samuels, MD, DSc(hon), FAAN, MACP, FRCP, FANA, Chair, Department of Neurology; Director, Brigham and Women’s Institute for the Neurosciences; Miriam Sydney Joseph Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

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  10. David Silbersweig, MD

    some_text Science is based upon establishing facts and using reason. Medicine combines science, ethics and compassion to heal and ease suffering. Hatred and violence are public health issues, with deleterious mental and physical consequences. Let us work together to bring our knowledge, capacities and values to society — to protect all people, to enhance civil discourse, and to further democracy.

    David Silbersweig MD, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Co-Director, Institute for the Neurosciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Academic Dean, Partners HealthCare; Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

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  11. Cheryl R. Clark, MD, ScD

    some_text We are all leaders at the Brigham. No one moves a patient bed, signs an order, devises a budget, or invests in a project without touching a life or impacting a community. As we commit ourselves to building a culture of health at the Brigham, we must decide how we will lead.

    My hope is we will lead by taking on the hard work of investing in people, community assets, and institutions that promote an equitable social context for health and, particularly, that we confront social inequities due to racism, income inequality, heterosexism, and other factors.

    We should respond to social conditions that affect health with a commitment to “continuous equity improvement.” When crises abate, we must draw from our sense of institutional and personal accountability, loving kindness, empathy, and resolve to ensure we advance equity and do not resume status quo operations.

    What does this look like? In part, it means we must partner to build opportunity for employees and patients in our clinics who battle chronic illness alongside income inequality. It means having institutional strategies to support homeless patients in our hospital beds and on the park benches across from the hospital. It looks like having the curiosity to ask patients who they are so we may treat them respectfully along the lines of race/ethnicity, preferred language, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It entails conducting research and cultivating innovation that prioritizes the health needs of diverse groups. It requires us to make continuous improvements to our campus to enhance accessibility for faculty, staff and patients of all abilities. And certainly — it should not need to be said – it means not being timid about opposing the ideologies of the Klan and neo-Nazis when they gather loudly in our public spaces, or when these ideas ooze quietly from our public policies in ways that support the inequities we know damage the strength of our society.

    Taking on the social determinants of health, as individual leaders and as an institution, is necessary because it is right and because it invites in the right friends, partnerships, and allies we need to achieve the highest standard of health for our patients, employees and the communities who partner with us. From a purely pragmatic perspective, we will depend on a broad set of partners outside our hospital walls to confront these health challenges — and our payment models are slowly starting to hold us accountable.

    As I reflect on what it means to be a leader at Brigham Health, and how to create a culture of inclusivity, I hope we will most of all embrace the chance to change: to have an honest conversation about what we need to do next to promote health, and to dedicate ourselves to new actions that demonstrate our commitment to a continuous process of improving health and all of its determinants.

    — Cheryl R. Clark, MD, ScD, Director, Health Equity Research & Intervention, Center for Community Health and Health Equity; Hospitalist, Division of General Internal Medicine & Primary Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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    • Annie Lewis-O'Connor

      some_textThank-you for all you do Dr. Clark! Addressing the social determinants of health including all oppression, disparities and inequalities is the only way we as a society will soar.

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  12. Gerard M. Doherty, MD

    some_text Our goal at BWH Surgery is to bring the optimal level of caring, knowledge and creativity to our current and future patients and families. We are at our best when we embrace ideas and skills from every resource. Including and nurturing a diverse faculty — intellectually, spiritually, experientially, and visibly diverse — is necessary for us to reach our greatest aspirations in providing and advancing surgical care.

    Gerard M. Doherty, MD, Moseley Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School; Surgeon-in-Chief, Brigham Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Crowley Family Distinguished Chair, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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  13. Maddy Pearson, MSN, MA, RN, NEA-BC

    some_text As the granddaughter of immigrant Jews and wife of an immigrant husband, our family’s core values have been those of caring, respect and “defense of the underdog.” We have witnessed firsthand how a lack of understanding of others and how bullying of those less fortunate or different can create such emotional scaring and loss.

    I spent a great deal of my career in NYC, such a melting pot of people from different cultures and ethnicities. I believe that my experiences in NY have helped mold who I am as a mother, wife, family member, friend, nurse and professional.

    Our work related to diversity and inclusion is now more critical than ever as we see demonstrations of hate and violence towards others. We have a deep responsibility to lead by example, work toward creating not just a tolerant environment but one that fosters an open, active inclusion of all people.

    — Maddy Pearson, MSN, MA, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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  14. Yilu Ma, MS, MA, CMI

    some_text People say if you see through your eyes, you see differences in others; if you see through your heart, you see sameness and commonalities.

    Inclusion, one of the core values of this great institution, keeps us on the course of providing excellent care to patients of all backgrounds. It leads to great outcomes of care delivery through collaboration and partnership. Our many best practices and success stories are symbolic of who we are and what we can accomplish. Adopting inclusion as a core value is the right thing to do, from the social justice perspective and also as a smart, proven business strategy.

    Diversity and inclusion, if handled well, can unleash the fullest potential of each individual, regardless of race, gender, religion, country of origin, language, and sexual orientation. However, if not managed well, they can be a double-edged sword. When we put people in boxes and see them as representatives of an entire group, instead of as individuals, we fall into the trap of divisiveness and judge others through our own lenses. No one is free from biases and prejudices, but as responsible adults, we can consciously check such tendencies, bad behaviors, and inappropriate and insensitive remarks.

    By 2044, minorities will become the majority, according to the U.S Census Bureau. It is absolutely important that we support the recruitment, retention, and promotion of individuals who reflect the populations we serve. Structural changes are necessary; the recent creation of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer position is a great move. Equally important is the behavior change and mindset transformation of each one of us. One way to bring about such changes is through education and calm, honest, introspective, non-judgmental, and conscious conversations about unconscious biases, prejudices, micro-aggressions, race, and racism. To achieve this, it’s essential to create a space where everybody feels comfortable and safe. Since 2013, the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee, under Nursing and Patient Care Services, has been an incredible platform where people of all backgrounds and beliefs find their voice. Hopefully, such conversations can be expanded to other areas of the institution as we embark on the journey to becoming a fully diverse and inclusive community.

    — Yilu Ma, MS, MA, CMI, Director, Interpreter Services

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  15. Dinah Vaprin

    some_text My husband and I are engaged in searching the ancestry platforms and local records to see where we come from, and who, if anyone, is still alive back in the old country. We have learned, sadly, that no relative is living, except for a second cousin of my mother who made it to France before the Holocaust. My maternal grandfather, Samuel Kopelov (née Kopelovich), came to this country in 1915 to avoid enlistment in the Tsarist army. He landed in Indiana, where I grew up. He and his family had lived through many anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire, which were, he strongly believed, often incited by the regional authorities and the secret police. Grampa Sam lost everyone in his very large Jewish family during WWII, except a brother and sister who luckily had escaped to the U.S. shortly after Sam did. My husband has learned much the same about his roots. After intense searches, we found no traces today of his family members or their living offspring.

    I think about that horror – that Shoah – which should never be forgotten, and look at my children and grandchild and think: That could have been us. I also think, as the Talmud tells us: “Live well. It is the greatest revenge.” And this is what I feel every day I come to work. We at the Brigham are deeply committed to ensuring everyone lives well, is comforted if they are in pain and is respected no matter color, creed or circumstances. Our institutional value of active inclusion of all who come through our doors gives me solace and energy, and this commitment is its own way of protesting what we see is occurring outside our doors. It is the Brigham Way, every day. Again, to quote the Talmud: “Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.”

    — Dinah Vaprin, Director, Communication & Public Affairs, Brigham and Women's Hospital

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  16. Shelita Bailey

    some_text As a person of color and a woman, I am, for lack of a word that accurately describes the emotion, disheartened by the divisive, intolerant tone that has descended upon our country. I have spoken to many of my colleagues who are suffering in silence as well. We as a community, collectively, have an opportunity to take individual responsibility for the culture created within our spaces. Instead of paying homage to racist, sexist rhetoric, we can intentionally celebrate the fullness of our diversity, whether it be race, sex, gender, identity, thought or culture. How we show up can turn the tide in a patient’s, family member’s or colleague’s experience. Take a moment to gain a new perspective, ask your colleague how they are doing today, smile at one another other and say thank you for a job well done. Let’s do our part in embracing a culture of inclusivity, acceptance and love.

    — Shelita Bailey, Director, Workforce Development and Volunteer Programs

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  17. Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH

    some_textAlt-right demonstrations in Charlottesville and those staged across the U.S., including last week’s rally in Boston, seem to be staged by a small number of white nationalists who promote racist and anti-Semitic ideology. But do not be deceived by the small numbers; the support for the alt-right is far larger. The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are over 900 “hate” groups, twice as many as were registered two decades ago, that have emerged in reaction to immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement and the economy and fueled by the political climate of intolerance and xenophobia. The mission of the alt-right is a long game: to drive white nationalism into the mainstream.

    Combatting ethnic, racial and gender disparities is also a long game. I applaud the protesters who appear in huge numbers to shout down the handful of alt-right demonstrators, but the real work ahead lies in removing barriers to equity and taking an active, proactive approach toward building a workforce that is diverse, multi-ethnic and tolerant. This comes down to the “ground game” of recruiting, retaining and advancing minorities, while aggressively countering those elements that would oppose these measures. This will take another kind of activism, and the Brigham, as a premier academic institution, can lead the city and the nation by example.

    We looked with pride upon the tens of thousands of Bostonians who came out to protest, sending a clear message to the movement and the nation. As a result of our collective voices, alt-right organizers have reportedly cancelled 67 “America First” rallies scheduled in 36 states. We’ve taken to the streets. Now we need to take it to the halls of medicine.

    — Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Professor, Harvard Medical School Professor and Harvard T.H. School of Public Health; Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; Director, Humanitarian Academy at Harvard

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  18. Lachelle D. Weeks, MD, PhD

    some_textMy mother, the daughter of parents who made their way north during The Great Migration to escape Jim Crow, was 9 years old as she watched the 1967 Newark Riots unfold on the streets 11 floors below her bedroom window. Years later, on rides to visit my grandparents, she would tell us kids about the buildings that used to stand in the abandoned lot across the street from the Prince Street Projects. The riots in Newark started after residents witnessed the beating of John Smith, a black cabdriver, by Newark Police officers. Protesters, believing Smith was killed, gathered around the 4th police precinct. This riot lasted 5 days. Nearly half of the city was an occupied zone. 26 people were killed. At its root, the Newark riots, like the riots in Harlem, Detroit and LA, were about racial tension. Newark had become a predominantly black city in the 1960s as a result of shrinking industrial economy, suburbanization, white flight and red-lining – but the politicians and police force remained white.

    ***
    In second grade, my family watched the nightly news coverage of the LA riots after the acquittal of four police officers who had been recorded beating Rodney King, a 47-year-old black man. I remember asking my mother if it was real or a movie. She referenced the ’67 riots in her reply. “This happened when I was a little girl too. I remember the snipers on the roof of 254.” 254 was the number of her building on Prince Street.

    ***

    Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown just as I was beginning my medicine sub-internship. In late October, my little brother, sent me a text that said, “I’m in Ferguson. I’m ok. Don’t tell mom.” I probably replied, “Be careful” or something similar. He made the trip from Oakland to Ferguson and back a few times to protest the murder of Mike Brown and subsequently the acquittal of his murderer. I’d watch the news coverage and wait for him to text that he was ok. He took a break to join us in New Jersey for Thanksgiving and I spilled the beans to my mother over margaritas and holiday meal prepping – she cried and told us she’d once dreamt of him dying at a political protest.

    ***

    I was two months into my 32nd year when Donald Trump was elected president. I wrote:

    “[…] my tears are mostly for lack of surprise. I have always thought of two critical moments for America as being 1) the manifest destiny that allowed a group of foreigners to invade a place, kill most of the native people and drive the rest from their homes and 2) the decision to steal humans from Africa and bring them across the sea in chains as a cattle work force. In the history of America that centers my ancestors – they ain’t never love us.”

    I’d witnessed the election of a man backed by white supremacists followed by efforts to legitimize rather than condemn him for the sake of preserving an imperfect political process. I watched as armed white nationalists organizing in our president’s name were offered police protection in a land where a black children have been murdered by police without consequence for the crime of sleeping on their couch or playing with a toy in a park. Hatred had gone mainstream. Then, in an awesome gesture, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of American cities in protest of white supremacy, hateful bans, walls and deportation.

    ***

    America’s most recent expression of racially provoked violence came 7 hours into a 24-hour shift, when a speeding car deliberately rammed into a crowd of counter-demonstrators killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal from a Virginia town just north of Charlottesville. Heyer was counter-protesting the Unite the Right Rally, a large white supremacist event organized largely out of opposition to removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. One human killed another and injured many under the guise of preserving history, using freedom of speech as his smoke screen. Why, in 2017 were there people still intent upon reaching back in time to align their ideals with organizations such as the KKK, infamous for their lengthy history of lynching African Americans, and Nazis, best known for the genocide of European Jews?

    ***

    Nothing occurs in a vacuum. For each of us, present events play against a backdrop colored by our past experiences. I’ll admit that my past makes it difficult to have optimism for race relations in America. The tides of racism have ebbed and flowed throughout my life, my parents’ lives and my grandparents’ lives — leaving too few degrees of separation between history and me. Yet, I, a black American, still love America despite her imperfections. In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin highlights the tension that exists between racial identity and national pride with the sentence: “I love America more than any country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” This past Saturday, colleagues and I marched in Boston to critique the parts of America that would allow the resurgence of overt white supremacy. The march was a profound representation of what I love about this country — regular people united, believing that we, as a nation can be better.

    — Lachelle D. Weeks, MD, PhD, PGY3, Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Chair, Resident Social Justice Committee, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Member, BWH Social Justice Task Force

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    • Pothik Chatterjee

      Incredible words – thank you for sharing your perspective and story. Lot of pain and suffering, sadly. It’s so important to acknowledge the history, conflict and systems of prejudice in this country. You will be a great doctor with great compassion and empathy – thank you for everything you do.

      — Pothik Chatterjee, MBA, Director, Business Development, Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization

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    • Mark MacMillan

      some_textDr. Weeks, I deeply appreciate your writing and reflections. The “lack of surprise” has also been a source of grief for me. It made me think of Jim Wallis’s book, “America’s Original Sin…” as well as James Baldwin’s speeches in which he stated that this country needs to figure out why we “need” this thinking that views non-whites as “less than” or it will eventually lead to this country’s fall. Maybe there’s hope in that perhaps the election of Trump has exposed this country’s ugly side, or its disease (not to disparage all who voted for him, but acknowledging that white nationalist obviously feel empowered, now).

      One particular forum I attended made one of the most insightful presentations I think I’ve witnessed. The presenter compared this country to an alcoholic household — whether or not one ever touches a drink, if one grows up in a household where there’s alcoholism, ALL are injured by it, and ALL learn the alcoholic behavior; and the only way to recover is to start by acknowledging there’s problem (that’s why there’s both AA and Al-Anon). Likewise with this country, as you wrote regarding the “two critical moments”: we’ve all grown up in a racist household, and all have been injured by it, and have learned racist behavior. We who are white especially need to face this and focus on how we recover, and how to “make amends”, even if we think we’re not racist. I don’t think we’ll heal if we point fingers at those who are more overt about their racism. We all (that is, especially we white folk) need to figure out how we’ve enabled it. And to resist the inevitable defensiveness, and simply ask ourselves, how do we recover? How do we make things right?

      — Mark MacMillan, Grants Administrator, Center for Excellence in Vascular Biology

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  19. Anu Swaminathan, PhD

    some_textThere is a saying in Tamil that goes “Yaadhum oore yaavarum kelir.” Roughly translated, it means every land is my land and everyone belongs to my family.

    To me, being inclusive at the workplace means cultivating the ability to look beyond someone’s appearance and age, where they come from and their way of life to what they could contribute in terms of intellect, passion, hard work, experience or specific skills. Also, figuring out how to respectfully communicate with each other despite physical, mental, cultural and socio-economic differences so we can focus on working together toward shared goals.

    Inclusivity outside of work would be cultivating the ability to acknowledge different people as they are without any expectation of assimilation or conformity beyond complying with the laws of the land. Also, developing a healthy sense of humor both at the individual and population level so we can laugh at our own quirks as well as that of others provided it is respectful and at the right place and time!

    Finally, inclusivity anywhere would mean not looking at an individual merely as a representative of some group while simultaneously being able to acknowledge that the individual’s association to a group (by birth, environment etc) could be a part of his/her complex identity.

    Live and let live (without harm to others)!

    — Anu Swaminathan, PhD, Director, Scientific Programs & Partnerships, Brigham Research Institute (BRI)

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  20. Faith Makka, MSN, MPH

    some_text This past Saturday, I was one of 40,000 protesters who successfully sent a message across to purveyors of hate. My cardboard sign read “Unlearn hate” – it had a triad of “K”s with a strikethrough, replaced by a triad of red hearts. No one is born hating a specific group of people – we unfortunately learn this. I looked around the sea of people that packed the streets of Boston and saw people of different walks of life. I saw infants strapped to their mother’s chest. I saw octogenarians. I saw Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics, Straight, LGBTQ, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists– the solidarity was incredible. This reminded me of the salient words of Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Issues of social justice shouldn’t only concern a certain subgroups of people, they should concern us all – even if the arrows of hatred and bigotry are not directly aimed at us. As MLK explains, “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” As such, what affects you will likely affect me in some way and vice versa. Injustice should outrage us all. One of the positive things about the recent events is that we have started broaching these difficult, at times awkward but necessary conversations. This is where true healing begins.

    Diversity ensures everyone gets a seat at the table. Inclusion values everyone seated at the table, invites, and welcomes their opinion, point of view and experience in the discourse. We must come to terms with our own implicit biases and continue to ask ourselves, “how am I personally promoting an environment that celebrates diversity and encourages inclusion?” While we may not be able to control what happens in our world at large, we certainly can each do our part to make sure that hatred, prejudice, and bigotry have no place within the walls of the Brigham – not on our watch!

    Faith Makka, MSN, MPH
    Deland Fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

    Reply
  21. Martha Jurchak, PhD, RN

    some_textInclusion means that everyone who comes into the Brigham–patients, families, staff–feel welcomed and cared for.

    — Martha Jurchak, PhD, RN, Executive Director, Ethics Service

    Reply
  22. Michelle Keenan

    some_textIt has been a very painful time in our country with the hateful rhetoric and actions, increasingly regressive policies and an ongoing assault to the basic values of justice and fairness. I find myself thinking often, “how did things get so terribly bad, so terribly quickly?” What is the underlying cause of this malaise of racism and exclusion and, most importantly, what will be needed for a sustainable cure? In this troubling context, I am heartened that this BWH President’s Perspective has enabled a forum for staff to share their concerns as well as their perspective on inclusion at BWH. The contributions have assured me that the values of equity and inclusiveness are alive in the BWH community, and I am heartened that there are many others are committed to progress in our organization and our communities.

    To me, the most significant measure of inclusion for our organization is increased employment as well as employment advancement for people of color at BWH. A day when we can truly say our organization is truly reflective of our community. I believe this requires us to speak openly and honestly about how our collective history of systemic racism in the United States and how it continues to shape the many institutional systems that work against equity and inclusion.

    My hopes for a brighter future draw from the spirit and dedication of the wonderful young people we have the privilege to work with. Over 500 Boston Public School students from the pre-K to the college years we work with at the CCHHE are supported by 300 dedicated BWH volunteers who teach, mentor and support the growth of skills for young people in our local neighborhoods that are so eager for opportunities and have so much to offer our institution and the healthcare field. And as painful as recent events are, these young people will not go backward. They are going forward with a passion, and I am thankful each day that I work in an institution that supports them to do so. In unity we will find strength in in our BWH community, but we must be honest about the challenges we face to make our workplace and nation more equitable for all and have the resolve to work together for sustainable change.

    — Michelle Keenan, Director, Community Programs, Center for Community Health and Health Equity

    Reply
  23. Annie Lewis-O'Connor

    some_textWhat a year! While initially I felt pure dismay- the resilience in me said “no way.” With all the challenges that face us so too are the opportunities. I feel even more committed to the mission, goals and values of BWH.

    Reading our Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Plan (2016) report was heartening and provided vision and direction for our work in our communities- thank-you to the Center for Community Health and Health Equity for leading this assessment and for conducting it in a robust manner. I am proud to work within an organization that strives to address the following inequities-
    1. Social determinants of health (employment, education, economic stability, and
    transportation)
    2. Interpersonal violence and trauma
    3. Behavioral health
    4. Health equity
    5. Healthcare access

    I commit to doing my share and look forward to partnering with colleagues throughout BWH to advance this work.

    — Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, BC-NP, FAAN, Founder and Director of the Coordinated Approach to Recovery and Empowerment (C.A.R.E.) Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

    Reply
  24. Tracey Martin

    some_textInclusion! It’s a mighty powerful word. Mind you, it’ not complex; it’s not even unreasonable. Yet it’s a word that eludes so many.

    To truly understand inclusion, you must first experience exclusion in the most profound way. For those of color this can begin at a very young age.

    Initially for me it was the boy next door, whom I adored. He lashed out and called me chocolate face. Now I love chocolate, but even at 6 it was clear that this label inferred something was wrong, and it had everything to do with me. To match his angry rhetoric, I screeched back – strawberry face! He had freckles and I don’t like strawberries, so it seemed appropriate.

    I now make light of it, because it sounds so very innocent; yet the impact was huge.

    Throughout life I would encounter more attempts of subtle degradation. I was not this or that. I was not white, nor black. Thus, at an early age I came to realize that there are those that must always find someone to look down upon, to make themselves feel, or look better. This is a position noted throughout history, whether it be attributed to race, sexual orientation, class, or religion. It’s all quite ridiculous. It is not something anyone should accept.

    To my great fortune, I had wonderful parents. Having been viewed as an interracial couple in a time “less fashionable”, both developed thick skin, but they were never bitter. Instead they taught us to celebrate, embrace and learn from our differences. They taught us not to fear the unknown, but to move toward it with wisdom and compassion.

    As a result, I am color blind and character clear. And to my parent’s credit, my family is virtually a rainbow coalition.

    My hope for a brighter future, toward inclusion at Brigham, would be to ask others to step out of their comfort zone. Find ways to gain exposure to other cultures, race and religion. I am a firm believer that we have more in common than we could imagine.

    — Tracey Martin, Fellowship Program, Emergency Radiology; Former Chair, Association of Multicultural Members of Partners, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

    Reply

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