A message from Dr. Burks: A time to pull together

Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, shares a message with the UNC Health community.

Dear UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine colleagues,

I spent much of the past weekend taking in the images, videos, and news, and thinking about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. I also spent time thinking about our Black students, faculty, staff and co-workers.

I shared a number of messages over the past year denouncing racism, anti-Semitism and hatred of all kinds. We’ve shared our hope in creating a sense of belonging in our school, on our campus and inside of our hospitals and clinics; it is important how we treat and support each other. Even though these terrible acts occurred in other parts of the country, what happened in Minneapolis, Brunswick Georgia and Louisville impacts all of us. The pain and sadness echoes a history of racism that continues to persist. 

All of this comes on the heels of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately impacted members of the Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities. The statistics showing the higher rate of positive cases and deaths in these communities should make us work harder at addressing these disparities and improving the health and well-being of all North Carolinians.

What happens in other parts of the country seeps into our community – in ways apparent and silent. It’s important to acknowledge what has happened and do something about it. Without all of us acknowledging it and committing to action, nothing will change. We each must act now to stop this senseless treatment of others.

Please reach out to your friends, colleagues and students and ask how they’re doing and how they’re feeling and listen without judgement. Fight the urge to offer a quick solution. This is an important time to pull together.

Wesley Burks
CEO, UNC Health
Dean, UNC School of Medicine


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