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Jun 10 2020

From the President: a personal perspective on race, equity and moving forward positively in difficult times

 Categories:  President’s Message Comments:   13 comments  Print Friendly Version  |   Share this item
Image for From the President: a personal perspective on race, equity and moving forward positively in difficult times While this message comes to you from the President of the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB), please allow me to take a point of personal privilege to share my individual perspective as I struggle with complex emotions in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

As a Black man and the father of two sons, Floyd’s senseless death feels personal and immediate. It should not be controversial for me to express sadness at the loss of life, or to note that our society still has much work to do to ensure equity in its criminal justice system.

Because I am a Black man, you may make certain assumptions about my views. But my race is not the only thing that defines me. I am a physician, a father, a leader in my hospital and a Medical Board member. These things shape who I am and what I think about the world. The same is true of every person, regardless of the color of their skin.

I would respectfully request that, as you continue to watch current events unfold, you pause to reflect and consider that you may not have all the information needed to form an educated opinion. Personally, I think we are all best served by observing, listening and doing our best to understand the underlying issues rather than rushing to judgment or acting based on emotion. While the issues are complex, the underlying principles of justice and equality are indisputable and cannot be compromised, or we risk the collapse of our civilized society. Most of you reading this message are physicians and physician assistants. I hope that we can work together in all venues – practice settings, health care systems, our medical education and training programs, or the regulatory world – to seek that equality.

Thank you for your attention. Feel free to share your own perspectives with me by emailing NCMB staff will make sure I personally see your message, and I will do my best to respond.

NCMB's Chief Executive Officer recently sent a message to Board staff reaffirming the organization’s commitment to its core values. I invite you to read it here.

 Comments on this article:

Dr. Murphy,
Thank you for your heartfelt comments and for your leadership. You make us proud.

By David Saliba on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:08pm

It is encouraging that as the wind of change blows across our nation and the world in general, the medical society leadership will stand up across this nation and the world against racial injustice. Our training and professional practice demand equity in all our dealing with fellow humans. Our daily encounters require that we in the medical profession stand as an ambassador of goodwill in human endeavor. The inequity in healthcare delivery, regardless of the administrative shortcomings, is an indication of our collective failure of injustice in race relations. This moment is an opportunity for us to seize the leadership in dialogue with all stakeholders towards improving this expanding gap. If we push the correction of this injustice, maybe our legal colleagues will emulate our steps to pass legislative reforms that will result in permanent change. A tree cannot make a forest, but it is a start for one. Let us individually commit to deliver our service without prejudice and live up to our oath practice. Even if nobody says thank you, just do the right thing. Our upcoming colleagues will be proud of our efforts at leaving behind a just and equitable profession.

By Abayomi Osunkoya, MD, MBA,FACP on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:10pm

Well said! I agree that we should all be willing to learn more.  It is so easy to make quick judgments based on limited data, but that kind of quick judgment is exactly what racism requires. I appreciate hearing your words and your call to acknowledge that we don’t know it all.

By Caleb Pineo on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:45pm

Dr. Murphy,
Thank you for reaching out to all of us. I am white so it is awkward to know what to say. I am aware of injustice, but have not been very effective at turning things around on a practical scale. I feel bullied and outnumbered. Staying quiet is not helping. I thank you for speaking out to all of us.

By martha mckay, md, mph on Jun 10, 2020 at 4:25pm

As our nation passes through the labor pains of birthing a new age of ‘liberty and justice for all’, I echo the century-old words of a Nobel laureate-poet, which serve as both path and prayer to ‘let my country awake’

Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote this prayer-poem, renounced his knighthood to show solidarity with his people, after British troops massacred unarmed Indian civilians in Amritsar in 1919.

May his words and example inspire us to ‘work for justice, be compassionate and walk humbly with God’ (Micah 6:8)

O’Neill D’Cruz

(This text was published recently in my letter to a local paper, excerpted here without external links)

By O'Neill D'Cruz on Jun 10, 2020 at 4:44pm

Very well said and very much on point, Dr. Murphy.

By Hampton Howell, MD on Jun 10, 2020 at 4:52pm

Dr. Murphy, Thank you for your leadership in opening this discussion and sharing your sadness at the death of George Floyd. We work to improve health and save lives, and I am horrified by the risk to human life when we have ongoing inequity in our justice system. As a health care professional, I hope to continue to listen and learn, and to work together towards equity in health care and in the criminal justice system.

By CYNTHIA ANN TOTH on Jun 10, 2020 at 5:17pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us. I, personally, think that any life lost to racism is a wasted life that should not had happened and it is deplorable that for many many years our governments have not insisted on education to eliminate the plague that is racism.
Thank you for your leadership.

By Ignacio Cabezudo, MD on Jun 10, 2020 at 6:42pm

Dr. Murphy, as a white psychiatrist, wife, mother, and grandmother, I search for words to express how horrifying it is to witness yet another murder of a Black person at the hands of a white person, a supposed authority. I am so sorry. I’ve talked with my 8- and 6-year-old grandsons about George Floyd and others, about racism, and about justice; it will be a continuing conversation. Thank you for sharing some of your personal feelings. It’s the only way we’re going to make any progress. 

By Jean Aycock, M.D. on Jun 10, 2020 at 8:59pm

“While the issues are complex, the underlying principles of justice and equality are indisputable and cannot be compromised”.
As healers and leaders in our community we play an integral role in being the change we want to see by actively assessing system changes needed in our institutions and committing to doing the hard work required to create a more equitable society.

By Giselle Blair on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:13pm

Dr. Murphy, Very eloquently written and well conveyed message!!

By Rupinder Kaur on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:52pm

Dear Dr. Murphy,
I greatly appreciate your letter.  I’m so saddened by another senseless murder, but yet I’m excited to see the positive energy emerge for social change and justice.  Thank you for sharing yourself with us and leading us forward. 
Keelee MacPhee

By Keelee MacPhee on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:41pm

Thank you Dr. Murphy for your empathetic message. As a Black person and a mother of 2 young men, I too feel a personal connection to the death of George Floyd, and to the countless other Black men and women who have senselessly lost their lives. I feel medical professionals, myself included, should have an ardent responsibility to use their platform to speak up and speak out. We must advocate in and outside of our places of practice against injustices, inequality and disparities that ultimately will negatively impact the health and well-being of our society.

By Mufiyda Abraham, PA-C on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:42pm
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