Letter from APTA Pediatrics Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup
Dear Member of APTA Pediatrics,
Recent events confirm that we are living in unprecedented and disturbing times. The Diversity Equity and Inclusion workgroup strives to create an equitable place for all within APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy. We promote creating a safe space for dialogue and action. APTA President Dr Sharon Dunn’s has presented a clear message against racial disparities, systemic inequality and violence (http://www.apta.org/PresidentLetter/2020/5/31/), and APTA Pediatrics President Cindy Miles, during last week’s town hall meeting, challenged pediatric therapists to imagine the possibilities where we can make a difference. She went on to say that “for centuries a systemic virus has caused generations of death, anguish, fear, economic disparities, education disparities, health disparities, horrifically separated families. Are we as Americans finally ready to face, to acknowledge, to defeat racism? Has the death of George Floyd, a Black man, and what has followed as Americans united in solidarity responded to the latest act of unwarranted violence against people of color, been the catalyst for us to finally say enough is enough?“
We believe that the APTA Pediatrics membership should stand strong against inequity, racism, violence, and any form of authoritative abuse, including police brutality against Black people. The members of this committee do not tolerate such behaviors. We vehemently oppose the recent brutal killing of several African American individuals at the hands of the local police authority and civilians, to include but not limited to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
The mission of Black Lives Matter is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene against violence inflicted on African-American communities. Their goal is to combat and counter acts of violence, creating space for imagination, innovation, and centering Black joy. We all must stand up against racism and violence targeted at individuals based solely on the color of their skin, race, or gender. We must realize that white privilege is real and exists. We must realize that many African-American families worry daily if a family member will be inappropriately stopped by police, targeted by a complete stranger based on skin color, or killed for no other reason except they came in contact with a person who was threatened by their very existence. And truth be told, this may be a novel notion to many of us, as these thoughts may never enter our consciousness based on one's background.
It is time to stand up peacefully and work with all our resources and spirit to show authorities, politicians, and your neighbors that violence against Black people is not moral, ethical, or correct in any way and is totally unacceptable. It is also time to stand for health equity. As we have seen, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus. COVID-19 does not affect people of color exclusively, but it does affect people with comorbidities that are directly related to disparities in health care access and other social determinants of health. APTA and APTA Pediatrics denounce racism, violence against people based on skin color, and lack of access to healthcare based on skin color and income level. We encourage our membership to peacefully protest demanding action, new policies, and practices. Become involved in your community, local, state and national levels to rewrite discriminatory policies and laws. Demand that health access is more available and that barriers preventing access to health care for underserved and underrepresented are eliminated. We especially support our members who are from underrepresented or under-resourced groups to become involved in APTA Pediatrics committees and leadership positions.
In addition to acting as a group, we can also act as individuals and make changes at the micro-level which will eventually impact the macro level. Consider the following activities (there are many more, these are just to get you started):
1. Watch the Sesame Street production, Sesame Street for Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism, a town hall for kids and families about racism with your family and your friends and have meaningful discussions with young and old about the negative impact of racism on all of us. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/06/app-news-section/cnn-sesame-street-race-town-hall-app-june-6-2020-app/index.html and https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/06/app-news-section/cnn-sesame-street-race-town-hall-app-june-6-2020-app/index.html
2. Contribute to various legitimate organizations/ funds that work to improve equity for all people:
a. The American Academy of Physical Therapy: Http://Www.Aaptnet.Org
b. The Bail Project: www.Bailproject.Org
c. Rolling Stone Provides A Nationwide List of Groups to Contribute to: Https://Www.Rollingstone.Com/Culture/Culture-News/George-Floyd-Protests-Bail-Funds-Police-Brutality-Black-Lives-Matter-1008259/
d. 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
Together we can and will improve society. Now is the time to say enough is enough, now is the time to demand equity and inclusion for all. We leave you with the words of APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist “There is nothing healthy about racism. It’s a disease of the heart and mind that has infected not just people but customs, systems, and laws. There is no vaccine. We must be the cure.”
APTA Pediatrics Diversity Equity and Inclusion Workgroup
(Members: Robbie O’Shea, PT, DPT, PhD; Mica Mitchell, PT, DPT, C/NDT; Ron Meade PT, DPT; Nia Mensah, PT, DPT, PCS, C/NDT; Eunice Shen, PT; Lori Glumac, PT; Erin Butler, PT, DPT; Cheryl Kerfeld PT, MS, PhD; Yassar Salem PT, PhD, MS, NCS, PCS; Julie Tan, PT; Emily Quinn, PT, DPT; Nicholas Kelly, PT, PCS; Mathew Raters PT; KT Jones, PT, DPT; Sara Montgomery, PT, DPT)