Texas Children’s joins TMC in peaceful protest and walking vigil
On Tuesday, while George Floyd was being laid to rest in a solemn private service in Pearland, Texas, our Texas Children’s family joined almost 1,500 health care professionals in the Texas Medical Center for a peaceful protest with Scientists and Health Professionals for Black Lives.
Click here for an inspiring video from the event.
George Floyd grew up in Houston, and on May 25, he died beneath the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, MN. His death has ignited global outrage and sparked more than two weeks of fervent protests and a call to action.
Tuesday’s peaceful protest and vigil were organized by Malcolm Moses and Ayesha Khan with the Association for Minority Biomedical Research (AMBR), who both moved the crowd with their heartfelt words. They were joined by Texas Children’s Cancer Center physician Dr. Rayne Rouce whose impassioned speech moved the crowd and brought to light the struggles she, her colleagues, and patients face on a daily basis.
“Being a black woman who is a physician and scientist means living in dual realities,” Rouce said to the crowd. “It means sometimes wondering if I can not only make a difference in the health of an individual patient but reflecting on how much needs to happen to make a difference in the health of all black people. It means struggling to find the words to explain to a colleague why their recommendations, which may seem doable, are not feasible for a black patient living in a food desert or one who does not have consistent transportation. It means choosing when to bite my tongue and when to speak up regarding the constant barrage of racially insensitive encounters we face on a sometimes daily basis. It means advocating for patients who look like me.”
The speeches in the Commons were followed by a walking vigil. Participants walked around the Texas Medical Center, wearing masks and carrying signs with messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The protest was a critical demonstration intended to provide support and awareness.
On Monday, Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace sent a note to all Texas Children’s employees and faculty, sharing his bold stance against systemic racism and oppression and urged people to join the march. Texas Children’s was proudly represented at the event with strong attendance by employees, staff, and physicians, including Wallace, his wife Shannon, our in-chiefs, medical staff leaders, and many of our executives.
“In my 30 years leading this organization, I have not seen an event like this in the TMC,” Wallace said. “I could not have been more proud of all of the students, researchers, and medical professionals, some who are just starting out in their careers, organizing this protest on behalf of all of us in the Texas Medical Center. And although it saddens me that we are not where we need to be today, I’m grateful that we’re finally at an inflection point where so many people around the world have been moved to rise up and bring about change.”
Khan, President of AMBR, noted that Tuesday’s protest was the first time space within the Texas Medical Center was used to amplify black voices and directly address racism, especially related to health care disparities, biases among medical providers and the experience of minority medical students. “Protests like ours are especially important within health care,” Khan said. “It is an important first step.”
“Colleagues from all different walks of life came together as allies to promote equality and, most importantly, to promote respect for humanity. It was a powerful display of alliance, togetherness, and condemnation of racism, and I was honored to participate with colleagues from Texas Children’s Hospital,” said Jackie Ward, Texas Children’s Vice President and Associate Chief Nursing Officer.
Texas Children’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lance Lightfoot attended with his family. “I attended with my wife and my 16-year-old son because I felt it was important for my family to show support for the Floyd family and the Black Lives Matter movement,” Lightfoot said. “We were moved by the speakers and the crowd, and I know it’s a day we won’t forget. I felt even prouder to be there as part of Texas Children’s, an organization that promotes diversity and practices inclusion every day.”
“It’s a powerful and bold start,” Wallace said. “We have much more work to do, and I’m so encouraged to see so many of us are taking deliberate, decisive steps to affect real change. Each one of us have a role to play, and this is our moment to speak up, speak out, and create the world we want the next generation to live in.”