Reasons Eating Disorder Center stands in solidarity with our Black patients, staff, colleagues and with Black Americans everywhere. We state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. We mourn the tragic and inhumane murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, three more souls among countless others lost due to the ever-present legacy of slavery, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of ignorance and hatred. We grieve with their families and loved ones, their communities and for our country.
Over the last several days, we have seen this collective grief so clearly in the rising cries of protesters trying to make their voices heard and insisting on being seen, valued and counted. That is all any of us want. That is, in fact, our most basic need. We are hard-wired for social connection, an essential element of which is to be seen and heard as indications that we matter.
One corollary to this is that we are also hard-wired to help. After George Floyd’s death, a physician friend of mine wrote eloquently about how in the ER, when someone comes in saying “I can’t breathe!” everyone jumps into immediate, instinctual action to help because that is a person in distress. When our collective response upon repeatedly hearing so many of our fellow human beings saying, in so many words, “we can’t breathe!” is not to jump into immediate action to help, something has gone very wrong. Especially for those of us in healthcare who have the enormous honor of being helpers and who are charged with the mandate primum non nocere, “first do no harm,” our response cannot be silence and inaction. Combating systemic racism and other forms of hatred and bigotry is inseparable from helping someone, anyone, to heal, and it must therefore be active, it must be constant, and it must be immediate.
For so many people from marginalized and minority communities, who have long lived with the consequences and realities of systemic inequities and injustice, the last several months have been a particularly exhausting, frightening, maddening, painful, and ultimately heartbreaking time. The disproportionate devastation the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on minority communities was yet another reminder of these systemic inequities. Long after we return to our daily lives, what will remain are the very loud echoes and wails of our collective grief and trauma.
To try to honor the experiences of Black Americans, as well as those who identify as coming from other marginalized groups, we commit to being anti-racist, anti-bigotry and anti-hate. We commit to educating ourselves on the historical roots of oppression and the ways in which it continues to impact on our patients, staff and colleagues. We commit to providing safe emotional spaces for our patients and our staff to have these very difficult but important conversations. We commit to having a leadership team and staff who are diverse and representative of the communities we are serving. And we commit to providing care that is rooted in cultural understanding and humility.