The Western Occupational & Environmental Medical Association (WOEMA) is greatly saddened by the tragic and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, and many others. We stand in solidarity with all the voices denouncing racism and inequality. Our hearts are with the victims' families as well as with all who routinely face pervasive racial discrimination, which is a public health crisis.
As a diverse group of physicians and leaders, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out for those who don’t have a voice – and to stand up and speak out for those who may not feel it is safe to do so. To look the other way is to fail our duty as health care providers, and those we are entrusted to protect – many of those impacted by these injustices are workers from underserved communities and may be our patients.
WOEMA has always proudly embraced diversity and the intrinsic value placed on human life. Our profession has a long-standing commitment to public health advocacy and addressing health disparities, including support for programs aimed at reducing violence of all kinds. Racism is a threat to the health and well-being of our communities, and eliminating racial bias in the practice of medicine is a foundational part of our efforts, enacted through research, public health policy, continuing medical education, and cultural competencies.
WOEMA condemns racism and discrimination. As current events underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and also as an organization. We are hopeful that through this tragedy, meaningful and necessary social reform can and will occur. We are uplifted by the peaceful protests uniting all people in support of equality and justice. While our hearts are heavy, we are committed to working within our own organization, as well as with local leaders, public health officials, and employers to create positive change in our various communities. All of us are called to do more, WOEMA will continue working on the front lines to help reduce disparities and look to a brighter future.