The past year has illuminated the need for change. In addition to the toll it has taken on lives, health and livelihood, COVID-19 has shed light on health disparities and inequities facing our communities of color.
The inexcusable killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others should make us understand our history of violence, as well as complacency toward the lives of Black people and other communities of color. These disparities and discrimination are uncomfortable truths we must face. To remain silent would make us complicit.
In terms of anti-racism, the CU Cancer Center must be upstanders and not bystanders. As a group, we have developed our vision statement, “Prevent and Concur Cancer. Together,” and our core values, which call us to be collaborative, compassionate, exemplary, inclusive, scholarly and transformative. Together we are committed to the work of dismantling racism that impacts our profession, our patients and our society. We all have biases, and we are committed to addressing them. There is no shortcut to this work and we may stumble on our journey, but we will push ahead, because the end justifies the means.
On June 5, doctors at the CU Cancer Center and around the Anschutz Medical Campus joined doctors across the country in the White Coats for Black Lives Kneel for Justice event, kneeling outside for 10 minutes in memory of George Floyd and to raise awareness of racial justice and health equity.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Richard Schulick, MD, MBA
Director, University of Colorado Cancer Center
Chair of Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine