Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota, shares a message regarding the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict.
The last year has taken a heavy toll on all of us. Time and again we have witnessed tragedy after tragedy in our community. We have had a front-row seat that none of us wanted to a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. We have witnessed the murder of George Floyd just a few blocks from our Minneapolis hospital campus. We have seen our city in flames in the aftermath. And in the midst of the charged environment as we all watched the trial against Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death, we then saw another young man – only 20 years old – Daunte Wright – be shot by a police officer after a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center. It feels overwhelming and many people feel these events deeply and mourn loss after loss in our own backyard.
The Chauvin guilty verdict brings a deep sense of relief and justice to many. It is a sign of progress. But, there is so much more to be done.
I hope we all recognize that this verdict is not the end of something. It is a continuation of centuries of efforts toward dismantling the systemic racism that has plagued our country for centuries.
Calling for police reform isn’t anti-police. Rather, reform built on transparency and meaningful change is support for a stronger, more trusted public safety environment. We know that in health care. Transparency was essential in identifying the unintentional harm patients sometimes suffered in our care. Acknowledging these errors and holding ourselves accountable is not about blaming or shaming dedicated health care professionals; it is key to taking the necessary actions to reduce the harm and create a safer health experience for everyone.
For those who may not understand the conversation that’s happening around police reform, I ask you to try to listen, really listen to your friends, colleagues and others in the community who are calling for change. And think about those calls to reform the disproportionate impact police violence has had on people of color in our nation’s history. Just as more transparency and accountability improved the delivery of health care for patients, so too can police reforms create an even stronger, more equitable and safer community.
And for those of you who may not understand skeptical or conflicted responses to the calls for reform, I ask you to try to listen, really listen, to your friends, colleagues, and others in the community who have a family member or even a personal background in law enforcement, a public service of which they are justifiably proud. Listen to understand their perspective.
Recent events have only made it more abundantly clear that structural racism in our community is deep and entrenched in all of us and across industries, including within health care. For those of us at Children’s Minnesota, our mission is to champion the health needs of children and families in our community – every child, every family. A core part of our commitment is to do all we can to eliminate the disparities that create inequities in care depending on race, ethnicity, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity or anything else.
The experience of this past year is yet another call to action for each of us to live out our Children’s Minnesota values. To put kids first by continuing to do the hard work and recognizing when something isn’t right and when it can be done better. To listen, really listen to each other and to our patients and families in these trying times. And to join together to make Children’s Minnesota and our community more equitable and inclusive, and continue to dismantle the structural racism that has plagued us for generations.
So, while we all finally exhale as we feel a sense of relief, we can take a moment to celebrate this step toward change. But I want us all to think about what’s ahead. Structural racism is all around us, not just in our criminal justice system or health care. Each of us plays a role and has a responsibility to take small or big steps towards change. So, I ask, what actions will you take to create that change?