Beyond a moment of solidarity

A year ago, people across the country moved to action when images of the death of George Floyd surfaced. It was a devastating reminder of the ongoing anti-Black systems of inequity that continue to poison our country. On April 20, 2021, the three guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial briefly gave us a glimmer of hope in the possibility of a different tomorrow.

A year ago, we too came together as an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) division and came to the agreement that while there was comfort in the momentary solidarity, we were committed to long-term, systemic change. Any system that has disparate outcomes on historically underrepresented communities must be critically examined, disrupted and replaced by equitable systems that provide just outcomes. Sustained change requires that we acknowledge how we’ve been complicit and define how we will commit ourselves to building a different reality.

We seek to model our call to action. One example was the creation of the George Floyd Memorial Fund to support students and programs committed to advancing the interests of aspiring Black leaders. We know that transformational solutions can only be found when we elevate the experiences of those most impacted by injustice.

Through your support, we are pleased to announce the launch of Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S., powered by the George Floyd Memorial Fund. This competitive, application-based program will provide a platform to nurture and inspire the next generation of Black leaders by empowering them with the necessary tools to implement the solutions they implicitly hold.

Our work has to be as broad as the injustice we are working against. Earlier this year, University of Utah Health (U Health) partnered with other Utah healthcare organizations in declaring racism as a public health threat, seeking to end the inequities within healthcare.  On May 25th, in commemoration of the first anniversary of the tragic death of George Floyd, U Health will host a panel with Dr. Abdul El-Sayed entitled, “Putting an End to Inequity in Public Health.” This panel is part of a multi-prong approach, continuing the conversation and the practice of elevating the needs of historically marginalized communities.

George Floyd’s family has called on all of us to commemorate his death with a Day of Enlightenment. This year and every year, we should revisit and update our call to action, and examine what we have done personally and collectively to further this work, so that his death, and the death of so many others, will not be in vain.

Our commitment is explicit, to work together to eliminate inequities in our policies, practices and systems.

Our work is not done.