Letter from Dr. Regina McClinton
Dear College of Pharmacy community,
I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on the recent events that have been happening. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others, some of whom have not received attention at the national level, serve as a stark reminder that this country has failed to make progress in achieving equality, inclusion, and respect for all of its citizens. For some it is shocking, for others traumatizing. For me, it cuts on many levels.
As the College’s Chief Officer for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, I find it a clarion call to support all College of Pharmacy constituents, through both actions and education. But it is a call I find difficult to answer. To be honest the phrase “here we go again” runs often through my head. Some of us haven’t seen such acts before. I am old enough to remember the police assault on Rodney King, and, having grown up in Los Angeles, to not have been surprised when that assault happened. Perhaps it was a dirty little secret in Southern California but police brutality ran rampant in Los Angeles, as it did across the country, before I was even born in the mid-60’s. This has been an ever present specter in my life, and I live with it every day. My parents lived with it every day, my grandparents lived with it every day!
Our deaths are being robbed of respect. Society watches us die, as if this is some form of reality tv, observing as if these grave injustices are there for entertainment, rather than serving as indicators of a society that is sick and dysfunctional. And this leaves me sad, angry, sometimes depressed and overwhelmed, and most recently afraid. Not afraid for my life, but for the collective humanity of America. I see our humanity eroding away, and at such a quick rate that I fear America may lose it altogether.
And then I find hope. Hope in the images of multicultural gatherings of neighbors and concerned citizens marching peacefully down streets of major cities and small towns. Hope in the actions of elected officials, such as the governor of Minnesota who called for the state attorney general to investigate the death of George Floyd, and did so quickly. Hope in the statements from Corporate America, no matter the motivation, decrying the violence against Black America and calling for social justice. Hope in hearing police officers saying “how do I help?”- my goodness how long have we waited for that perspective? To be honest I wondered if we’d ever see it! And if police officers can go to the peaceful protesters and ask “how do I help”, then so can everyone else. Black America cannot do this alone. We cannot be in every elected office to change policies, run every school to teach about the full and inclusive version of American history, run businesses, universities, health systems, law enforcement, and financial institutions to enforce equal and just practices by those organizations. No, it will take America, ALL of America, to accomplish this.
Black America is in a lot of pain. How to handle so much pain and conflict? There is no guidebook on this. Sometimes we do so through song (please listen to Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues”, or The Temptation’s “Ball of Confusion”). Sometimes we cry and yell. And sometimes we protest. Our pain needs to be heard. I hope you can hear us now. Please hear us now! It is my hope that we have crossed a line in the sand- a line that represents maintaining the status quo. I do believe that something is on the verge of breaking. I hope it is not this country. I truly hope it is the systems in which racism and discrimination are embedded. Because if it is not the latter that breaks, then it will be the former, and that will cost us all.
Now, now more than ever, is the time to decide and to ACT. We must, each of us, be engaged in the work. And there are many ways to accomplish this, and since we are all in the industry of education- educate. Educate yourselves, your students, your families. On behalf of the College of Pharmacy, I and my team will bring forth programming so that we as a community can be educated. Education promotes knowledge, and knowledge is power. We have both the capacity and the capability, so let us all be powerful.
Regina McClinton, PhD
Chief Officer for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion