In recent years America and Americans have faced a long overdue reckoning with their history of systemic racial differences and inequalities. This new awake generation is aware and actively aware of important facts and issues, especially those dealing with racial and social justice or injustice. But is it enough to be awakened in today’s landscape? Is the veterinary medicine awake? I say we are far from awake.
The need for change
The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has brought a new level of attention to the everyday racial and social hardships that many blacks and People of Color (POC) face. Equally worrying is the rise in statistics on black transgender women and violence against them.
According to the human rights campaign, black transgender women are disproportionately murdered because of their identities – black, transgender and women. This alone puts them at an increased risk of being killed and of falling victim to other forms of discrimination. In addition, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender people, and especially colored transgender women, face a “variety of types of violence, including intimate partner violence, violence fueled by transphobic and homophobic hatred, and violence by Law enforcement and correctional officers “. . ”In the US Transgender Survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, of the 28,000 respondents, 47% of the “black respondents said that they were denied equal treatment, verbally harassed and / or physically assaulted because they are transgender in the past year.”
It is not just blacks and POC individuals who are facing a staggering increase in violent crime. Equally worrying are the attacks we’ve seen against Asian Americans in a post-COVID world. Stop AAPI Hate documented 6,603 hate incidents against Asian Americans from March 2020 through March 2021, and the real number is estimated to be much higher as many hate crimes go undeported.
Anti-Semitic sentiment towards Jewish Americans is also increasing. In 2019 alone, the ADL recorded 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. This represented a 12% increase from the 1,879 incidents registered in 2018, and was the highest number since ADL began prosecuting anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.
Ways to show support
These statistics, names, and crimes should be troubling to everyone. Names like Trayvon Martin should never be forgotten. So, I’m telling you, don’t be complicit. Don’t just be an ally. Don’t just be an advocate. Be an Activist!
The ADL defines allies, advocates and activists as follows:
- Allies: Someone who speaks up for someone else or takes action that supports someone else. Example: An ally is usually an outsider who elevates the work of advocates and activists. They are ready to continue learning and share their support on social media and in their social circles.
- advocate: Someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Example: A lawyer publicly supports the work of activists by donating, reinforcing, lobbying and getting the message across.
- activist: Someone who engages in activities aimed at bringing about political or social change; this also includes membership in an organization that is working on change. Example: An activist is on the front lines, actively involved in forcing change, holding others accountable, and leading the indictment.
I am an activist because when I see racial differences, gender inequalities and injustices, it affects me negatively as a person. When we see things like that, it has a negative impact on all of us. When we stand there and watch everyday injustices and say nothing, we become implicit. We lose a little of our humanity every time.
The bottom line
A call to action like Wake Up, Vet Med, and a desire to be more inclusive as the veterinary industry should be of interest to everyone. Shouldn’t our hospitals and our employees represent the communities and customers we serve? Can’t we create better veterinary medicine when our customers feel they can get in touch with us personally? I think so.
In conclusion, let’s say let’s drive change in our hospitals and in our industry. Let’s all be activists who embrace positive change and a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse veterinary culture. Every month let’s celebrate Pride and our teams’ unique contributions, whatever they may be. Together we can be the change through activism!
Paul Miranda is the hospital administrator at BluePearl Specialty + Emergency Pet Hospital and supports operations in several hospitals in Kansas and Missouri. In addition, he works with numerous veterinary affinity groups in the field of equality, inclusion and diversity and is a member of BluePearl’s EI&D council, where he identifies, addresses and advocates sustainable and scalable change.