Clarence Watson, MD, JD
Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
It has been an absolute honor to chair the Task Force since our first meeting on June 29, 2020. I want to thank each of our TF members for their time, thoughtfulness, and commitment as we work towards short-term and long-term strategies for addressing representations of structural racism within Penn Psychiatry. While, at times, the challenging task of confronting real-world manifestations of racism feels daunting, the members of the TF remain fueled and inspired by the ongoing good will, dedication, and spirit towards positive cultural change that is present within Penn Psychiatry, the School of Medicine and across our University.
Our TF has been earnestly examining and grappling with the impact of race in critical areas, including clinical patient care, medical research, professional training programs, hiring and retention practices, and professional mentorship. Given the breadth of these issues, the TF has divided into subgroups to more closely focus on these specific areas and develop concrete strategies. Currently, the TF is preparing to share its recommendations for promoting an anti-racist culture within Penn Psychiatry. Please note, it is not too late to contact the TF and share ideas or suggestions. Please do not hesitate to send a confidential message to the TF at email@example.com.
There is no question that the international social unrest related to racial injustice that we have witnessed over the past months represents a call to action for immediate change. While the need for change is certainly immediate, I believe that we must also remind ourselves that any change, which is not firmly rooted, runs the risk of receding with the tide. Penn Psychiatry’s deliberate, persistent, and intentional efforts to promote and sustain an anti-racist culture are necessary to effectively shift insidious cultural wrongs that may impact our patients, staff, trainees, and faculty. Of course, the realities of structural racism have unfortunately benefited from centuries of a head start. But I am optimistic that remaining in this marathon, and running it together, will bring us to a place where diversity is truly valued and racial injustice is not tolerated.
Last month, we lost U.S. Congressman John Lewis, whose long legacy of fighting for racial equality can be easily traced back to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. As we take this journey together, please be reminded of the tireless efforts of many who came before us and pushed forward despite opposing social and political elements. As we work to bring about change that promotes an anti-racist culture within Penn Psychiatry, the School of Medicine, and across our University, please remember Congressman John Lewis’s words: “Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”