On Friday, May, 29, Dr. Brigit Carter and I held our monthly diversity conversation. Attendance varies from 12-20 faculty, staff and, occasionally, students. This Friday we had 65+ students, staff, and staff join. The conversation was difficult, challenging, raw and so sad. Given the events of the past three weeks, with two African-American men murdered -1 in Georgia and 1 in Minneapolis it was just what it should have been. I would never be able to capture here the tears, frustration, questioning, angst and pain shared on Friday.
As a white person, and one who has sat and listened to our community share their pain too many times before, it was overwhelming. Murder is murder- plain and simple. There are no excuses. There is however clearly a meaningful and important need for change. When a graduate student (a runner who is an African-American man) has to ask if Duke Campus would be safe to run in we must ask ourselves what kind of worlds are we allowing ourselves to co-exist in? The answer for that question (after I spoke today with our university leaders) is yes. People are out and running and walking on both east and west campus and Vice President Kyle Cavanaugh, shared that security has been enhanced over the last few months. Provost Sally Kornbluth shared she runs on east campus and that there are many people out every time she goes. But I had to ask as I wasn't sure myself.
I will share two of my takeaways from Friday. One is a great resource every white person should read who wants to do something constructive (https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234). Another very valuable suggestion was ‘just ask me how I am doing’. Students were hurt after sitting in classes (with their own emotions and stress so high) that continued as if nothing happened and no references were made to the very powerful events of the past three weeks- even when topics such as social determinants of health were discussed. I have since taken this suggestion and used it four times this weekend with neighbors, colleagues and friends and it was right on as a suggestion in terms of allowing me to ‘see their pain’ and be really open to another.
Lastly there is some concern about the lack of acknowledgment on twitter and FB on DUSON’s part. We will be examining how to be more sensitive to context in our profession, state, county- not just ‘representative’ in our postings. This is the difference between diversity and inclusion I guess- important and deep concepts for us be constantly revaluating.
Please stay tuned. This is the beginning of renewed attention to how we live in community as we talk about that being an important value for DUSON. We need all of our best minds to concentrate on this and how we can make meaningful strides and progress to be better human beings than we are now and make sure we influence the world we live in for all. Every one of us is responsible for participating- not just me, or some students, or some faculty, or some staff. Otherwise we won't live in a community but rather separate mini worlds of which we often know little about and which prohibit connection, learning and caring. And the cycle of despair will continue.
Marion E. Broome, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean and Vice-Chancellor for Nursing Affairs, School of Nursing, Duke University
Associate Vice-President for Academic Nursing, Duke University Health System
Additional Messages from Duke Health Leadership