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Black Lives Matter On Our Team
by Carrie Vogler, PharmD, BCPS, Clinical Associate Professor - SIUE School of Pharmacy
We are in a time of change; change can feel disruptive and difficult but is crucial to our lives and our development. With everything that is happening these days and so many uncertainties, sometimes I just need to take a step back. The “new normal” continues to shape itself and I remain hopeful for what that will look like. We are working through a pandemic, dealing with economic disparities, and facing racial inequality and social injustices all at the same time. I will argue that our patients and our colleagues need one another more than ever to unite and overcome these challenges.
I am proud of the continued efforts made by my colleague Dr. Lakesha Butler at SIUE School of Pharmacy and President of the National Pharmaceutical Association to help to unite 13 pharmacy organizations to make a stand against racial injustice for Black Americans.1 In June, ASHP announced the creation of a Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to advise ASHP on specific, actionable steps to further address and take inventory of matters of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion. These are encouraging steps that the profession is taking to address the disparities that currently exist in our country. I think about the number of patients I have served who have been at a disadvantage in terms of opportunities to receive the best health care possible. I hope the current conversations, education, and actions being taken will bring these inequalities to our immediate attention and lead to vital changes to overcome them. It is also my hope that the current under-representation of Black pharmacists and relative lack of diversity in our profession can be improved as the barriers that have historically prevented inclusion within the profession in pharmacy are systematically dismantled.
We are all hurting right now in some way or another. The conversations we need to have are sometimes difficult. Navigating a conversation with my eight-year-old daughter, trying to explain what happened to George Floyd and the subsequent activism was not easy, but needed to be addressed. In school, she had learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the stories that shaped our country’s history. I felt crushed to tell her that the stories she had read and the things that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for were still happening TODAY. I am working through my disappointment in myself for the countless number of times I have seen events showing injustice in the news and within my community and the eventual numbness I began to feel toward this “routine” reporting. I want to be a part of the solution so that no person has to continue to face these injustices.
As difficult as these times are, I remind myself to be thankful for the lessons they teach us and for the opportunities provided for me to grow as a person. It keeps me grounded and helps me put things in perspective. It is more important than ever to spend time reaching out to our teammates to check in on them, to ask about their day. I appreciate all of the people who take time to show they care and are actively serving our patients and communities. We need you as our frontline heroes and our advocates.
We need to make an effort to listen, to connect, and to educate ourselves. I recognize that there are many stories and circumstances that I am unaware of and I need to make an effort to learn more about inequality, recognize my unconscious bias, and keep the conversation going.
I encourage you to think about what you can do to help bring equality to Our Team and within the efforts of ICHP. Let’s be part of the solution and continue to learn and grow together. Spread kindness, hope, and compassion to everyone. Ask yourself, what can I change? ■
- ASHP Joins National Pharmacy Organizations to Stand Against Racism Press Release 6/5/2020. Access 6/16/20 at: www.ashp.org/News/2020/06/05/ASHP-Joins-National-Pharmacy-Organizations-to-Stand-Against-Racism