This title of this blog entry is a message one of our students wished to post on a class social media page.
The rest of this story has complicated points of view and resulted in hurt feelings and competing priorities. I am sad that what appeared to be a positive working relationship turned sour to such a degree that the student now feels left out of the class, abandoned and isolated. My hope is, that as an SOD community, we are and will continue to work toward engaging and encouraging each of you, on the road to belonging and wellness.
Our student body comes from all backgrounds, races and ethnicities, genders, religions, sexual orientations, and other histories and experiences. We cannot survive if any one of us feels afraid to speak out, feels threatened and ultimately withdraws from our community.
As a health care institution, the diversity of our SOD community enriches us all – students, faculty, staff and patients. In fact, racism and systemic injustice are public health issues.
I want to remind you that you have a voice here. You are valued here. You matter here. You are needed here.
Black Lives Matter here.
Unfortunately, I was away from Richmond because of personal commitments during the recent protests and civil unrest. My time was limited, and I could not follow the news about Richmond on the Internet and am just catching up. I am also gaining a better appreciation for the concerns of our School of Dentistry’s African American community. Many in the VCU family have suffered and are hurting.
You may have seen that the dental office of Dr. Randy Adams was vandalized. Dr. Randy Adams was the first African American graduate of our Pediatric Dental Residency here at VCU. Dr. Adams is a pillar in the VCU dental community and continues to dedicate his time here at the school. He is a staunch supporter of the School of Dentistry and has been influential in developing students and helping us grow our pipeline of African American students. He, like many others in Richmond, has been personally impacted by this crisis. Dr. Adams is also a friend of mine, as well as one of my mentors.
I just called to check on my friend and mentor Dr. Adams. We can take a lesson from Dr. Adams and many other African Americans that face challenges daily and yet continue on. We stand together and still wait for justice to roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream, as Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed in 1963. Everyone needs to call out racism and injustice. To be silent is to be complicit.
You need to make a call.