On Monday, June 8, we held a virtual “check-in” with our Black faculty and staff. We heard the pain, fear, anger, and frustration of our Black colleagues in light of the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black people. We heard expressions of the stress, and the cumulative toll of the lack of regard for Black lives in addition to the impact of systemic and structural racism on their professional and personal lives. Moreover, we heard that there are opportunities in the CON to move toward inclusive excellence. We knew that listening was not enough.
As a next step, the Black faculty and staff met and discussed opportunities to improve the CON climate to be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable while promoting anti-racism. As a member of the Black faculty, Dr. Jenerette took notes, circulated for feedback and prioritization and shared them with Dean Andrews on June 19, 2020. Recommendations include strategies such as enhanced implicit bias and anti-racism training for all faculty and staff, including senior leadership; additional content and training for all nursing students; additional training for faculty search committees; enhanced efforts to recruit higher proportions of minority and underserved students and adequate support for currently, enrolled students; formalizing a partnership with HBCUs to increase the pipeline of Black and other minority students in our programs, and to continue planned communications and check-ins. We have recommendations. What’s next?
We are meeting with Black faculty and staff this week to review these recommendations and to begin operationalizing them into actionable plans that are community-driven. In this instance, the community is the Black faculty and staff of the CON. We are challenged by the question of how to effectively and authentically “move the needle” and to reimagine inclusivity, diversity, and equity in the CON through the lens of Black faculty and staff. What can we do now?
In the short term, we are strengthening our foundation by enlightening the CON community with a plethora of resources to inform our lived experiences. We know that leadership matters and leaders need to lead by example. As a first step, senior leadership are reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and will follow with insightful reflection and discussion. This is one of many committed steps to move us forward together.
We recognize there is hard work ahead as we are not all on the same page with our understanding of the impact of systemic racism, implicit and explicit bias, privilege, and our collective and individual roles in contributing to an inclusive environment. In order to enact and sustain real change, our team is challenged to engage in intentional self-reflection with the goal of moving to critical consciousness and actionable change. We will continue to listen and act. We know that change is needed, the need is urgent, and the responsibility belongs to all of us.
Jeannette Andrews PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean & Helen Gurley Wolford Professor of Nursing
Coretta Jenerette PhD, RN, AOCN, CNE, FAAN
Professor & Associate for Dean, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity