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Knowledge Portal > News > Posts > Love Note from Laurel: We are All Called to Action
June 16
Love Note from Laurel: We are All Called to Action

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On Saturday, June 13, many members of the UW Department of Ob-Gyn and I took part in the White Coats for Black Lives rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol, organized by the UW SMPH chapter of the Student National Medical Association. It was a humbling experience, and underscored that, as health care professionals, we are all called to take action now to combat systemic racism.

During Saturday’s rally, we heard from medical students, residents and physicians in the UW SMPH, including incoming UW Ob-Gyn resident Dr. India Anderson-Carter (quoted in the Cap Times), about our responsibility in health care to understand and address the public health crisis of racism in the United States.

In addition to the speakers from UW SMPH, community leaders described the lived experiences of racism and healthcare discrimination for Black people in Wisconsin and throughout the country. Leaders like Lilada Gee, founder of Lilada’s Living Room; Dr. Alex Gee, pastor and founder of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development; Alia Stevenson, chief programs officer at the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness; Vanessa McDowell, executive director of the YWCA Madison; Brandi Grayson, founder and CEO of Urban Triage; and Bianca Gomez, of Freedom, Inc. shared a vision of racial justice and a call to action to the healthcare profession to become "accomplices" in anti-racism work. They also stressed the importance of supporting Black-led organizations.

A repeated refrain on Saturday was that actions speak louder than words – with that in mind, I’d like to share action steps within our department. I’m pleased to join the UW Ob-Gyn Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee as co-chair, and I look forward to supporting important next steps as we learn and grow together:

  • The DEI Committee prepared a Prescription for an Inclusive Ob-Gyn activity that I hope we will all complete in June.
  • On Thursday, August 27 from 7:00-9:00am, we will host a facilitated workshop on anti-racism, with help from UW Health Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Coordinator Naomi Takahashi – stay tuned for more details.
  • The UW SMPH will offer two virtual book clubs to discuss issues of racism and inequity in the United States. Both discussions are open to SMPH faculty, staff, and learners. To facilitate conversation, participation is limited but additional dates will be added if registration fills:
    • On June 24, Vera Tsenkova, PhD, Director of Health Profession Student Research will lead a discussion of So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Register
    • On July 7, Elizabeth Petty, MD, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Tracy Downs, MD, Associate Dean of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs will lead a discussion of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Register

I willingly acknowledge this is an area of growth for me – I have so much to learn and understand, and it’s going to take time. Dismantling systemic racism will not happen after one reading, one conversation, or one training. I hope you will all join me in the long-term work of building a radically inclusive, equitable environment for our patients, employees, learners and communities.




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