Monday, June 1, 2020

Message from the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Dear KU Medical Center Faculty, Staff, Students and Community Partners:

The last few months have been extremely challenging for all of us. COVID-19 has forced us to adjust to a new way of life and has amplified the inequities experienced by people of color and our most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, COVID-19 also brought about violent, xenophobic attacks against Asians and Asian Americans.

The last few months have also brought about repeated and senseless tragedies for the Black/African American community:

  • On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while running in his neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia.
  • On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by the Louisville, Kentucky, Metro Police Department.
  • On May 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City, Travis Miller, a delivery driver, was blocked from leaving a gated neighborhood by two members of the homeowner’s association.
  • On May 25, 2020, while bird watching in New York City’s Central Park, Christian Cooper experienced a disturbing confrontation during which a woman called the police on him after he asked her to leash her dog.
  • On that very same day, George Floyd lost his life after a Minneapolis police officer detained him by pressing his knee into his neck. In his last moments of life, Mr. Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe,” and also “Momma, momma, I’m through,” as he took his last breath.
These acts of violence, threats and hate stem from longstanding systemic racism and a society built on supremacy in our country. As the main campus of our academic health center, positioned in the most diverse city and serving the most diverse county in our state, we must stand against racism, supremacy, hate crimes, oppression, threats and all acts of violence. We are here to support all people and to foster an environment where everyone − employees, learners and our community − have the opportunity to thrive. Let’s continue to unite and hold each other socially accountable to address systemic racism that continues to plague our country. This is not a Black problem; this is an American problem. We must be allies, accomplices and advocates for justice.

We know not all people share racist views, and we know not all law enforcement officers are against particular groups of people. We appreciate all who serve with dignity, respect and impartiality to protect and keep us safe.

Thank you to all faculty, staff, students and community partners who have reached out to express your solidarity and willingness to confront this public health crisis. And lastly, while we understand the pain, grief, anger, sadness, helplessness and frustration, we hope for peaceful protests locally, nationally and globally.

Sincerely, 

Jerrihlyn L. McGee, DNP, RN, CNE
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer
University of Kansas Medical Center