This may be one of the most difficult, painful and important times in the history of our country. On top of dealing with an unprecedented pandemic, we are seeing people across this country speak out, shout out, protest, grieve and rage against yet another unjustified death of a black man at the hands of those who took a vow to serve and protect.
George Floyd’s murder is creating a sea change like we’ve never seen before. I’ve asked Tamara Lundi, Interim President for UMass Memorial Community Healthlink, to be our guest blogger. She would like to share a message she sent to her staff at Community Healthlink after George Floyd’s death. Of all the statements I’ve read since his death, this is the one that moved me the most.
Tamara Lundi, Interim President for UMass Memorial Community Healthlink: For days now, I have pondered on how I would start this message to all of you. Even at this moment, the thought of “releasing a statement” about yet another unjust killing of an unarmed black man and sharing our “prayers and condolences” is something I have dreaded. But here we are … again.
As the current leader of this organization, it is my responsibility to speak to you all on the behalf of this agency and our stance against racism and oppression. Community Healthlink is an organization that stands for equality, justice, and the betterment of the lives of those who are marginalized in mainstream society. Every day we work to be the voice of those whose voices go unheard due to negative stereotypes, discrimination and stigma. We are a team of caregivers who serve the underserved, reach the unreachable, and remember those who society oftentimes forgets.
As an African-American woman, it is my responsibility to speak to you from my perspective as a member of the black and brown community. I remain strongly committed to all of our caregivers and clients. To those of you from our black and brown communities, know that your lives do matter. The essence of who you are does matter. Your existence and contributions to our team and to this world do matter. I stand in strong solidarity with those who stand for justice and the healing of our nation. You matter to me.
I get that this statement will be grouped with all of the other statements being issued and my prayers and condolences will take their place with everyone else’s. To be honest, personally, I feel like the significance of those words, at this point, are like the air that George Floyd pleaded to breathe- lost.
But what I hope is not lost, is hope itself. My hope, while at times just a small glimmer, is that we will stop having to issue statements and stop having to share our thoughts and regrets and that we will instead, be the change and not just talk about what needs to change.
I challenge each of you, individually and collectively, as I challenge myself, to consider what that means for you and how you will act on it moving forward. Because the truth is we all have a responsibility to care for each other.
Dr. Dickson: I’d like to echo Tamara’s challenge for all of us at UMass Memorial and quite frankly, all of us in the health care field, to consider how we can be the change and not just talk about what needs to change. There is no higher calling for those of us in health care than to care for others and that includes caring for each other and taking a stand for what is right.
Today, all of our caregivers at UMass Memorial Health Care participated in a silent demonstration to show our solidarity to address systematic racism and condemn the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.
The moment of silence lasted 8 minutes and 46 seconds to represent the innocent lives lost to unacceptable acts of violence and racism. This event was organized in partnership with the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Senior Care Association and 1199SEIU. UMass Memorial Health Care is proud to unite with these and other health care organizations to take a stand against racism.
Now is the time to join together to listen, reflect, have a dialogue, and take meaningful, sustainable actions to make change happen, so there is never again a need to have a silent demonstration or a loud, vocal protest against these inexcusable acts of racism.