We woke Monday in the aftermath of a weekend that defines who we are today. How we respond will affect the future of who we become, the actions we take, and what we will achieve. We are feeling exhausted, perplexed, anxious, and angry. George Floyd and over 100 people of color that were killed by police were named one by one during the protest in Indianapolis on Saturday, reminding us that the calls for justice and equity are not new. The resulting outrage is reminiscent of a long history of racism and strained race relations in America.
I encourage you to read the letter of American Nurses Association (ANA) President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, posted June 1. President Grant speaks as a black man and registered nurse, and his words could not be more important for us personally and the profession. Regarding our responsibility as nurses, he states:
“At this critical time in our nation, nurses have a responsibility to use our voices to call for change. To remain silent is to be complicit. I call on you to educate yourself and then use your trusted voice and influence to educate others about the systemic injustices that have caused the riots and protests being covered in the news. The pursuit of justice requires us all to listen and engage in dialogue with others. Leaders must come together at the local, state, and national level and commit to sustainable efforts to address racism and discrimination, police brutality, and basic human rights. We must hold ourselves and our leaders accountable to committing to reforms and action.”
I agree with Dr. Grant’s assessment and conclusions about nursing’s role and commit to his recommended actions personally.
Yesterday our IUSON Diversity Advisory Council met to share our experiences, debrief, and discuss our role as citizens and leaders of this school and community. Council members identified the importance of several key issues:
- listening when our colleagues talk about how race, racism, or bias affects them - hear and acknowledge their experience;
- checking our assumptions about who people are or what they are experiencing based on personal characteristics; and
- communicating broadly about the issues, as well as what the IUSON Diversity Council and others are doing or will do in the future.
- Today we reflect and personally recover to plan for tomorrow. We must actively live our core values of respect, responsibility, trust, and dialogue. We must embrace the tenants of our diversity statement to promote an educational environment that values, respects, and reflects a global view of diversity.
Martin Luther King, Jr, said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Let us not remain silent out of fear of misunderstanding but carefully continue a dialogue focused on those things that we hold to be most important – the sanctity and dignity of every human life.”
Thank you for all you do and will do to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion at IUSON, the state of Indiana, and the nation.
Robin Newhouse, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Dean and Distinguished Professor
Indiana University School of Nursing
Deputy Chair, University Clinical Affairs Cabinet
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, IU Health