Supporting the Black Community as Allies for Change
Recent events have reinforced at RVU what it means to come together as a community and in support of one another.
The protests taking place throughout the country are a powerful expression of mourning for members of the Black community. They not only grieve the senseless death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers, but also all of the Black men, women, and children whose lives, of immeasurable value, have been violently cut short.
As individuals, we must recognize and acknowledge the deep pain coursing through the Black community and understand that we must do our part to overcome the societal ills that have perpetuated these injustices, of which there are many.
RVU students recognize this moral obligation to address inequity and injustice and the need to support the Black community in ways that bring lasting change. One such way that students are showing their support is through events like Rest in Power: Tools for Peace, which was held on Tuesday, June 4, and co-hosted by RVU’s Diversity Committee and Student National Medical Association.
The virtual memorial honored the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor with a moment of silence and remembrance. It was followed by a special presentation from Daneka Souberbielle, Academic and Career Advisor, in which she shared her perspective as a member of the Black American community, a diversity and inclusion advocate and expert, and as a Black mother of Black and Brown children.
In her presentation, Ms. Souberbielle discussed how those at RVU can commit to inclusion as humans and medical students. Support of communities of color, and of RVU’s minority students, faculty, and staff, begins by providing a safe space for expression, listening as they share their experiences, and lifting their voices. In doing so, we become part of the solution and allies for change. As allies, we must:
- Take feedback and self-correct
- Observe and develop empathy
- Stay focused
- Understand places of privilege and use it as a tool
- Build a bridge and invite people over it
- Put down the need to self-protect in order to understand
“People care,” Ms. Souberbielle said as she thanked the students who organized the event. “It’s easy to feel isolated. It’s easy to feel that no one else can understand the experience that you are going through or that people don’t care. But [we are at a point] where people care. They’re taking up courage and are doing things in their sphere of influence to make a change.”
During the event, students also highlighted the important role healthcare providers have in supporting the Black community and the duty of students to commit to peace and justice. “Our profession grants us the unique responsibility of holding the lives of others in our hands. With that comes the reality that when our unchecked biases affect our work, [we] affect the lives of other human beings,” said Emilie Mathura, OMS I, who moderated the event.
The event concluded with an origami crane folding demonstration, led by Yuri Anderson, OMS I, and an act of peace and unity. The event was attended by over 160 students, faculty, and staff.
If you would like to volunteer, seek additional resources, and/or financially contribute, RVU is highlighting the following organizations, cultural resources, and informational articles that are advancing social justice and equity.
- Racial Equality Institute
- NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
- Campaign Zero
- Common Ground Foundation
- Black Girls Code
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