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Our role as healers … our responsibility as leaders

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Interim vice president for VCU Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health System Peter Buckley shared the following message on June 5, 2020:

"Embrace this moment … I hope that VCU takes a leadership role.”

— Mr. Keith Parker, Rector, VCU Board of Visitors, June 5, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

These past two evenings, my family and I have joined beautiful people gathering at the Lee Monument to protest in peace for change. We are proud of their message and their vocal and powerful rejection of racism in all its forms. 

As responsible humans and healers, we must stop racism in words and actions. Unequivocally, we repudiate all racism, oppression and discrimination of any type.

As this week draws to a close, we remain dismayed by the deadly consequences of racism that destroy life through the disproportionate burden of diseases like COVID-19, and through continuous violent acts, primarily against the African American community. 

Please, let’s resolve to face these challenges together as a strong community, united by respect for each other. In the midst of this progressive social unrest, we have the opportunity to grow together in the ways that we can and will support each other, heal each other, and serve our patients who may be hurting both physically and emotionally. This is truly a time for us to embody our roles as healers.

I have heard directly from many team members already, and I look forward with anticipation to next week, when there will be several virtual town hall meetings and events to reflect, listen, learn and plan our most effective responses together. Gratifyingly, we have already begun to express ourselves — as at the powerful VCU School of Medicine-led White Coats for Black Lives event, where colleagues and supporters gathered to kneel for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in support of Black lives and to take a stand against racism, and other recent events occurring with our VCU School of Nursing, VCU School of Dentistry, VCU School of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions. The movement and passion grow, and will continue to do so.  

Please take these opportunities over the coming days to express each of your aspirations for a better future together. I look forward to our discussions together and to translating your aspirations into an action plan to enable real change. We are reminded that “actions speak louder than words.” Let us hear your words. Let us act together. 

We can do this. We must do this. History is being made now, and we must help shape it.

Reflecting upon the remarks of the Mayor of Atlanta, Ms. Keisha Lance Bottoms, “There’s something better on the other side of this for us … and … for our children’s children.” 

Let’s get there together.