THE VALUED VOICE

Vol. 64, Issue 24
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Thursday, June 11, 2020

   

Guest Column: Understanding and Addressing Inequities (Damond Boatwright)

The events of the past two weeks have shined a new spotlight on racial inequities in our society. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the nationwide reaction remind us that we must all work hard and together to make significant, tangible improvements in our society.
 
Health care is not immune from these challenges and has a significant role to play in moving forward. WHA joins our members in recognizing the problems before us all and the obligation to help our nation, our state and our communities improve. This includes working to ensure all citizens, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, have access to high-quality care.
 
Today, we share powerful and insightful commentary, and a call to action, from one of Wisconsin’s many great health care leaders, Damond Boatwright, the President of SSM Health Wisconsin and WHA’s 2019 Board Chair.

Stronger Together: A reflection on finding solidarity during difficult times
A message from SSM Health Wisconsin Regional President Damond Boatwright

“I’ll send an SOS to the world, I’ll send an SOS to the world.”​

The opening line comes from one of my favorite songs, ironically the name of the band is called The Police. The song is entitled “Message in a Bottle.” I hope this message to you stands out among the “hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore.”

In the midst of a very difficult pandemic response, many members of our community are facing renewed fear and anger following multiple high-profile racial incidents in our country. The latest, the death of George Floyd, has sparked riots in Minneapolis and protests for racial justice across our country. Including right here in Wisconsin close to our homes.

In addition to both peaceful and violent protests over the past several days, many leaders across our country are speaking out against the racial inequalities, injustices, and police brutality incidents that continue to happen. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of the Boston Diocese shared his thoughts on the moral dimensions of George Floyd’s death in this statement over the weekend.

These incidents bring into stark reality the now prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who commented on the deep, troubling racial and economic divides that exist in our country. In 1967 he directly addressed the disparity in existence in our country in his The Other America” speech.

Although I know this will seem very naïve and overly aspirational, I still believe that we should all strive to mend these two Americas into one. Whether we live in an urban city or a rural one, whether we are black, white or in between, rich or poor, Republican, Democrat or Independent, we are all Americans endowed by our Creator with the same inalienable rights. All lives must matter, and no life can be neglected if we are to achieve this vision! While we affirm the value of every life, the recent events call each of us to face the reality that black men and women have not been equally afforded safety, security, and opportunity.

The time has now come that we must challenge ourselves and one another to truly discern on this one ageless question: “Am I my Brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4: 8-10

Although it may be easy for some of us to believe that we are spiritually and humanly connected to one another, for others it is more difficult to accept. To those in our society who might not share this belief, then for the simple fact that we all co-exist together on this planet we should try our very best to resist the ugliness, evil and injustice of treating another human being as anything less than equal… Again, all lives must matter if we are to simply co-exist in relative peace!

Because SSM Health’s core values lead us to have a special concern for those who suffer injustice, as an organization we are invested in promoting health equity. We are already doing work to reduce racial disparities in health outcomes and address social determinants. Although we are committed to this work, there is much more that needs to be done. We will continue to grow these efforts.

I hope you will join me in solidarity for all of our sisters and brothers in working towards a more peaceful and just society. Working towards social justice includes looking within ourselves to discover and learn more about our own biases. For SSM Health employees and providers, we offer self-guided resources through our intranet. For those outside of the SSM Health organization, I would urge you to reflect not only on the words shared above from Cardinal O’Malley and Martin Luther King, Jr., but to also seek out resources and learnings from black leaders. In Madison, Nehemiah and Justified Anger have collected a list of resources for non-black allies to deepen their understanding and education. Many of these resources are accessible to any non-black ally, as are widely available resources like Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist reading list.

I ask you to virtually join me in praying for the coming together of our communities with this prayer of solidarity:

Heavenly Father, we know that You are the Source of the peace that passes understanding. In these troubled times, give us understanding minds and hearts as we listen to the cries of the oppressed, the wounded, the confused, and even to the voices of those with whom we disagree. Give us the wisdom to respond with Your Truth, offering words and actions that build up instead of tear down.

Across the nation, racism casts a long shadow. We believe that all life is sacred and worthy of our deepest reverence. Give us the courage to stand up for racial justice and reconciliation. As individuals, as a ministry, and as a nation, help us to see when we have missed the mark and empower us to do better.​

Root up any violence or malice within our hearts and minds and transform it into love, a love of neighbor and a rightly ordered love of self. Let us work for peace and be peace to one another and the people we serve. Amen.​

{From St. Dominic’s Antiracism Team (St. DART), St. Dominic’s/Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System}

In closing I leave you with the same plea from the opening song, “I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle.”

 

This story originally appeared in the June 11, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter

WHA Logo
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Guest Column: Understanding and Addressing Inequities (Damond Boatwright)

The events of the past two weeks have shined a new spotlight on racial inequities in our society. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the nationwide reaction remind us that we must all work hard and together to make significant, tangible improvements in our society.
 
Health care is not immune from these challenges and has a significant role to play in moving forward. WHA joins our members in recognizing the problems before us all and the obligation to help our nation, our state and our communities improve. This includes working to ensure all citizens, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, have access to high-quality care.
 
Today, we share powerful and insightful commentary, and a call to action, from one of Wisconsin’s many great health care leaders, Damond Boatwright, the President of SSM Health Wisconsin and WHA’s 2019 Board Chair.

Stronger Together: A reflection on finding solidarity during difficult times
A message from SSM Health Wisconsin Regional President Damond Boatwright

“I’ll send an SOS to the world, I’ll send an SOS to the world.”​

The opening line comes from one of my favorite songs, ironically the name of the band is called The Police. The song is entitled “Message in a Bottle.” I hope this message to you stands out among the “hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore.”

In the midst of a very difficult pandemic response, many members of our community are facing renewed fear and anger following multiple high-profile racial incidents in our country. The latest, the death of George Floyd, has sparked riots in Minneapolis and protests for racial justice across our country. Including right here in Wisconsin close to our homes.

In addition to both peaceful and violent protests over the past several days, many leaders across our country are speaking out against the racial inequalities, injustices, and police brutality incidents that continue to happen. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of the Boston Diocese shared his thoughts on the moral dimensions of George Floyd’s death in this statement over the weekend.

These incidents bring into stark reality the now prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who commented on the deep, troubling racial and economic divides that exist in our country. In 1967 he directly addressed the disparity in existence in our country in his The Other America” speech.

Although I know this will seem very naïve and overly aspirational, I still believe that we should all strive to mend these two Americas into one. Whether we live in an urban city or a rural one, whether we are black, white or in between, rich or poor, Republican, Democrat or Independent, we are all Americans endowed by our Creator with the same inalienable rights. All lives must matter, and no life can be neglected if we are to achieve this vision! While we affirm the value of every life, the recent events call each of us to face the reality that black men and women have not been equally afforded safety, security, and opportunity.

The time has now come that we must challenge ourselves and one another to truly discern on this one ageless question: “Am I my Brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4: 8-10

Although it may be easy for some of us to believe that we are spiritually and humanly connected to one another, for others it is more difficult to accept. To those in our society who might not share this belief, then for the simple fact that we all co-exist together on this planet we should try our very best to resist the ugliness, evil and injustice of treating another human being as anything less than equal… Again, all lives must matter if we are to simply co-exist in relative peace!

Because SSM Health’s core values lead us to have a special concern for those who suffer injustice, as an organization we are invested in promoting health equity. We are already doing work to reduce racial disparities in health outcomes and address social determinants. Although we are committed to this work, there is much more that needs to be done. We will continue to grow these efforts.

I hope you will join me in solidarity for all of our sisters and brothers in working towards a more peaceful and just society. Working towards social justice includes looking within ourselves to discover and learn more about our own biases. For SSM Health employees and providers, we offer self-guided resources through our intranet. For those outside of the SSM Health organization, I would urge you to reflect not only on the words shared above from Cardinal O’Malley and Martin Luther King, Jr., but to also seek out resources and learnings from black leaders. In Madison, Nehemiah and Justified Anger have collected a list of resources for non-black allies to deepen their understanding and education. Many of these resources are accessible to any non-black ally, as are widely available resources like Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist reading list.

I ask you to virtually join me in praying for the coming together of our communities with this prayer of solidarity:

Heavenly Father, we know that You are the Source of the peace that passes understanding. In these troubled times, give us understanding minds and hearts as we listen to the cries of the oppressed, the wounded, the confused, and even to the voices of those with whom we disagree. Give us the wisdom to respond with Your Truth, offering words and actions that build up instead of tear down.

Across the nation, racism casts a long shadow. We believe that all life is sacred and worthy of our deepest reverence. Give us the courage to stand up for racial justice and reconciliation. As individuals, as a ministry, and as a nation, help us to see when we have missed the mark and empower us to do better.​

Root up any violence or malice within our hearts and minds and transform it into love, a love of neighbor and a rightly ordered love of self. Let us work for peace and be peace to one another and the people we serve. Amen.​

{From St. Dominic’s Antiracism Team (St. DART), St. Dominic’s/Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System}

In closing I leave you with the same plea from the opening song, “I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle.”

 

This story originally appeared in the June 11, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter