Still Committed to Change Four Years Later

PAEA shares information about a few common cultural or religious observations to help faculty and staff create a welcoming and inclusive environment for their colleagues, students, and communities. The information we share is not intended to be advocacy, and it is not a complete description of these events or observances. Interested members are encouraged to seek out more information online or through people in your school or local communities.

Say his name. I can’t breathe. Black Lives Matter. May 2020 remains one of the most pivotal times in recent history for calls for anti-racism and equity in all areas of our country.

Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020, we were too stunned to fully process the shocking and senseless violence. In disbelief of what we were witnessing and while holding back the pain and tears from the numerous previous murders, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we watched the outpouring of protests and marches across the world to turn that pain into purpose.

During the next weeks, we saw a variety of pledges and commitments from corporate America to solve the deep systemic challenges that exist. Individuals pledged to begin reckoning with their role in perpetuating racism. Churches and religious organizations banded together to dismantle racial barriers. Systemic racism was given a name, a face, and a voice to begin calling out how it still plagues the Black community and other communities of color.

I dare to say we had hope that, as a country, we would get it right and that we would sustain the movement toward justice. However, four years later, we find ourselves as a nation still grappling with justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Those same organizations that pledged billions of dollars for EDI positions and best hiring practices have stopped the flow of money. Education institutions are removing staff and faculty who educate and lead through an EDI-centered approach. Policies at the state and federal levels are restricting access to EDI practices in hiring and affirmative action in admissions. Books and curricula that discuss systemic racism and other issues of equity are being banned from schools and libraries. And, once again, we are left in disbelief of the many ways that we see and experience the continuation of injustices in many forms across our country.

PAEA is fundamentally committed to EDI principles. As we continue to hold space for George Floyd, it is also an opportunity to remember the many commitments made to equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice and to do the work to fill the widening gaps.

Member programs are encouraged to work with their university leaders to understand policies and laws in their states that are shifting the EDI work. Faculty and staff can use tools like the PA Programs Admissions Resources Guide to evaluate their student recruitment practices and work to increase representation of the global majority populations within their program.The PAEA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit can help in creating inclusive environments for faculty and staff from historically excluded communities and sustaining opportunities for impromptu experiences that enhance learning and our cultural awareness and humility.And, most importantly, do not let what is working against us, stop us from doing the work to develop healthcare providers and leaders who are better equipped to care for an increasingly diverse population.

As an organization, PAEA leads through an equity lens and works to provide resources for our members that equip them to do the same. Despite changes to the state and federal policies that may make the work more challenging, we find ways to lean into what we can push forward. PAEA has codified our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice in our strategic plan. This work will remain at the forefront of all that we do, and we will be a resource for our members as we navigate the known and unknown of our changing political landscape. It is not an option to backtrack our work…our students and their patients depend on all of us.