King Week @EmoryEPI
Category : PROspective
To our @EmoryEPI community – welcome to Spring 2021! Although celebrations surely looked different this holiday season, we hope that you were able to find moments of rest and relaxation over the last several weeks. Even though our winter break was longer than usual, some may still feel like it wasn’t quite long enough – whatever your situation, know that you are likely not alone in how you’re feeling. A new semester presents us with new beginnings and opportunities. We know that the road to get to the other side of the pandemic is long; however, vaccines and a national COVID-19 response strategy allow us to begin to see the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.
This past week, we celebrated and honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As we work towards a more just and equitable society, there are important lessons that we can take from Dr. King and apply them to our own leadership. Below, I’ll highlight the key points from the linked article, with a spin on what these lessons mean for us as public health professionals.
Embrace the “We” Mindset
If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together
– African Proverb
The “we” mindset really is at the core of public health – we’re keenly aware of how interconnected we all are, and that we simply cannot go at this alone. It’s not about what any one of us can accomplish on our own, but what we can do together that will have the most impact on health and wellness in our communities.
We often need to put in a lot of work to get to this place, but we must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We know much needs to be done to realize public health’s goals of preventing disease and promoting health. We cannot expect to undo the damage of slavery and institutionalized racism by insisting on living the myth of a color blind society. Growth and progress are the rewards of the tension that comes from stepping out of our comfort zones, and speaking up for what is right. Good intentions are meaningless if they are accompanied by silence.
Embrace Learning and Unlearning
Simply put: our learning is never finished. Sometimes, the things that we learn are in conflict with what we already knew – we must remain open to allowing our knowledge to evolve as we gather more information and recognize when we must change our point of view. Although classroom learning will come to a close for our students in the coming semester(s), please remember that it will always be important to continue listening, learning, and acting in pursuit of justice.
Embrace Being an Extremist
Bernice King, an American minister and the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, reminds us that as we honor her father, we must remember that he was not beloved by America. He was bold in his approach, and forged a unique path that wasn’t always well-received. There will be times when we must be extreme in our approach – where we take the lessons learned from embracing the “we” mindset, tension, and learning and unlearning – and apply them in ways that will have a real, measurable impact on the health of our communities.
I know this may be a lot to soak in at the beginning of a new semester – and some of you may wonder whether you’re really up for the task given all that you have on your plate. If this resonates with you, know that advocacy and the pursuit of justice are part of a journey. We can commit ourselves to this journey while also allowing ourselves to pause and tend to our own emotional, spiritual, and physical health. As we embrace the “we” mindset – we know that this is a journey that we are on together. When one of us needs a moment of pause, the rest of us can continue to carry the torch forward. I, for one, am grateful to be on this journey with each and every one of you.