School of Nursing

February 1, 2018

Celebrating Black History Month

Azita Emami

It is important both personally and professionally for us all to acknowledge and reflect on the lives and legacies that inspire Black History Month, being celebrated throughout February.

This is a time to honor significant contributions from African-American scholars, artists and activists, as well as acknowledge historic and contemporary injustices experienced by the Black Community. Let this opportunity inspire and compel you to act in ways that promote equity.

There is much to remember and much to honor with regard to the accomplishments that many prominent African Americans have contributed to our country. We should take collective pride in this past and acknowledge how our lives have been positively impacted in so many meaningful ways. That said, we also need to recognize that African American communities have historically had to bear the burden of societal inequity that denied equal access to opportunity, equal access to housing, equal access to education and, of course, equal access to healthcare.

No one person, department, school, university, or profession can fully address the cumulative damage that has been done. But what each of us, and the larger entities of which we are a part can do is commit to investing the effort it will take to change those things we can change, and advocate for the changes that require action by others.

Nursing has a unique role to play. We must be diverse in order to fulfill our professional role of serving equally and compassionately those who need our care. We must learn how to understand and admire each other’s strengths, identify hidden prejudices and unconscious biases, and truly embrace the benefits of a multicultural, multiracial society. We must become powerful advocates for eliminating the health inequities and disparities that persist, to the detriment of not just African Americans but also the rest of our society, which is diminished by the existence of those inequities.

Black History Month is an opportunity to renew our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is also a reminder that more is required than just putting that commitment on paper. It must find expression as actions that make a significant difference in creating educational opportunities and improving healthcare access and erasing inequities within our school, our profession, and our society.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is planning an event later this month to commemorate Black History Month. Information for this will be forthcoming. Please take part with your heart, as well as your presence and ultimately your actions. We will be better and stronger, individually and as a profession, for making these ongoing efforts.