2023 is officially here and it already feels like I’m six months in. I started this year off with a bang, with little transition or break between the end of 2022 and the start of 2023. Instead, my team and I worked tirelessly in the last quarter of 2022 to plant seeds of partnership, submit grant and contract applications and proposals scheduled to be awarded in Spring/Summer of 2023, and continue to advocate for more diversity and inclusion in clinical research.
The number of layoffs and reorganizations within businesses has urged many, including myself, to scrutinize the longevity and sincerity of touted DEI efforts proudly announced in the first three quarters of 2022. I would personally love to see the breakdown of ethnicity, race, age, and immigrant status of organizations that had massive layoffs in December 2022 and January 2023 and see how it compares to any public proliferations of DEI success earlier in 2022.
As we near February 1st and the start of Black History Month, I must admit I am suspiciously
waiting to see how many organizations inappropriately quote Martin Luther King, Jr. out of context while tokenizing the ethnically diverse employees they have on staff. These occurrences on the heels of the most recent police brutality would simply be in poor taste. For those curious, no, I have not personally watched the beating and death of Tyre Nichols. I don’t want the mental trauma, which is what would occur. I don’t want to see my sons in the face of that victim. Organizations would do well to acknowledge the trauma of Black employees watching that footage and realizing that could have been them or a loved one [with little to no repercussions because THIS IS AMERICA], yet still performing their job duties. Honestly, the level of tone-deaf announcements of “solidarity” and “allyship” made during the month of February make me and many others cringe.
I don’t mean for this particular post to come off as negative, although, if you’re still reading you can opt to discontinue. Instead, what I aim to provide is a reality check, a dose of authenticity in the face of nauseating performative gestures intending to placate and ultimately silence those of us that acknowledge there is much work to be done. The dismantling of racism in the United States is not beholden to one or more incidences, it is the policies and systems in place that need to be torn down. When we have the State of Florida seeking to ban Critical Race Theory and other educational practices that critically view “America’s history and its relationship to race” and the rejection of AP Courses in African American studies, we need to really take a look at ourselves as a society and ask some tough questions. Who benefits from policies like this? Other countries with racial atrocities in their history tackle them head on, acknowledge them, and make sweeping changes to avoid such horrific practices in the future (see: Germany). What are we doing here, America? Seriously….what are we doing?
The key here is to self-motivate. I am tired, like many others, of the struggle, the juggle, the dance, the code-switching, the politically correct conversations, the attempts to preemptively deescalate so not appear aggressive, and so on. I am tired of navigating an existence where people hate me because they ‘ain’t me’, but do everything they can – tanned, implanted, wigs, extensions, injections – to emulate the culture they long so badly to be a part of without embracing the pain and experiences that make the culture so rich. Minorities are not target practice, nor are we entertainment. We are more. I am more.
So, I press on. I love what I do. I love looking at humans from the inside, their DNA, and it is THAT perspective that reminds me we have much more in common than different, if we could just get past our own barriers and misconceptions. It seems so ridiculous when I look at the science.
It is because of this knowledge that I have so much joy in what I do. That said, I am very excited about 2023. I believe that this year will be a year of growth for me and many others. I am choosing to focus on those actions that push me forward and expand my perspective, and those people that want to grow, are okay being wrong, that challenge and correct me when I misstep, and love me for who I am while appreciating the journey I am on.
I’ll never be left where you found me.
Happy 2023 everyone!