A statement from President Judy Peterson

The past two weeks have been filled with enormous pain and anguish surrounding the brutal killing of George Floyd. Floyd is the latest of too many African Americans who have lost their lives to systemic racism. It is wrong, and it is beyond time that we all speak up.

Even COVID-19 has underscored the differences in economic opportunity, nutrition and health care available to Americans of color, which is why African Americans have significantly higher COVID fatality rates than white Americans.

Because of the relative lack of ethnic diversity in Vermont, these problems can sometimes seem removed from our everyday lives. But we are not immune. Inequities and prejudice persist regarding race, gender, religion and sexual orientation, even in our relatively accepting state of Vermont.

As health care professionals who are the face of wellness and caring in our community, we must take a stand. We can personify the values of dignity, respect and compassion every day and have the power to promote peace and solace in these troubling times — by checking in with one another, by offering a wave or warm and caring glance, even from 6 feet away, and pausing to listen when a friend, colleague, patient or loved one needs to be heard.

These subtle but powerful actions will not immediately correct inequity or injustice, but they convey our humanity and concern for one another — new and native Vermonters and new Americans alike.

Let’s continue to lead by example. We owe it to our neighbors, our state and to one another.