School of Nursing

March 17, 2019


Azita Emami

Fifty lives and a significant loss of hope were only part of the toll last week as another white supremacist expressed his opinion through the barrel of a gun, taking innocent lives at a place of worship.

The last few years have unfortunately revealed that racism and white supremacy exists across the world. These incidents are not limited to “a few isolated individuals” but, rather, we are seeing an increase in this type of hate and divisiveness on a global level.  When leaders act as though these incidents are limited to only a few, it actually grants permission to these cowards to spread their hatred through terrorists actions.

When New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern proclaimed that, “They are us,” she was pointing out that we must confront the fact that racism and white supremacist views are endemic to our societies and these views and action affect everyone. Last week it was an Islamic mosque; in prior weeks it has been Jewish synagogues and Christian churches for Black Americans.

This brings to mind the words of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I call on everyone to stand for what is correct and good. Stand for a society where all people are created equal and where none are lesser for their skin color, religion, or station in life. Stand for those around you who are fearful or persecuted. Stand for respect and understanding, rather than fear and hate. Stand for discussion, not demagoguery.

Have the strength to speak up and object when you hear others use negative stereotypes or make racist, homophobic, bigoted remarks. Have the strength to be an advocate for kindness and caring and the belief that every person has value. Have the strength to be a bold leader rather than a cowed follower.

Have the compassion and concern to join me in acknowledging the fear and concern our Muslim faculty, staff, and students feel at this time, and reach out to let them know that there is far more good than evil, far more who care than hate, and that we as a nursing community are united in our commitment to making this a world in which racism and white supremacist attitudes have nowhere to flourish.

Keep in mind that they are us. Choose to be part of the answer, not part of the problem.