One Good Thing
Improving the Work Experience at UCSF

Issue 115
To make our True North "Our People" efforts more visible at UCSF, this communication provides a highlight of one enhancement, story or tip intended to improve the work experience for clinicians and faculty at UCSF Health.
The Marin Headlands in the fog. (Photo by Martha McQuade,  Flickr Creative Commons )
Listening to Our Black Colleagues

To our black colleagues, friends and community, I am so deeply sorry. I'm not only sorry, I am mad. I am not only mad, I am determined. But this is not about me, and for today's One Good Thing, I would like to share your voices. Though it's not your job to teach the rest of us, thank you for what you have shared this past week, and for ages. Your stories are critical to the "revolution" that is needed. I hope you take some rest for yourselves now, and let the rest of us do the heavy lifting with your guidance. To the rest of us, whatever we are doing now, do more.

There are a few powerful must sees on racial justice from UCSF this week (June 2nd) that I ask all of you to watch:

Here are several poignant messages, but there is so much more. Please watch them.

Shakkaura Kemet , 4th year medical student, shared her answer to what it's like for her to live in a world with racialized police brutality. At 26:48 , she describes a likening of her life to a version of the Hunger Games, a science fiction story where names are entered into a lottery. If your name is pulled, you are more likely to be murdered in an ensuing game. "For me, life is like that every day....I play this game every day without reprieve. And though it is a centerpiece of my existence, I am aware it is often invisible to people whose names are never entered into this lottery.....That said, I find hope that I had to come up with this analogy because it means that someone who does not share my experience finally asked me what it's like to be me."

Dr. Edward Miller , Clinical Fellow, Maternal Fetal Medicine, shared starting at 28:50 , "I ask that you all think about what it feels to live in America today as a black man. Think about how it feels to have to wear a mask outdoors at all times. Now it wasn't too long ago, as the murder of Trayvon Martin showed us, that we found out that a hoodie was triggering for many white people. The combination of a hoodie and a mask feels insurmountable. I've had people not want to get on elevators, cross the street when I'm wearing my mask, and physically recoil. That is my normal today."

He goes on to say, "So what do I need from you at UCSF? Most importantly, I need you to show up for me. I need you to send me emails or texts that say I don't need to respond, and there's no pressure, but that you're there. I need you to know that asking me if I'm alright right now is a question that has an obvious answer, I'm not. We're not. When you witness people asking me questions like 'how are you,' or 'you seem depressed' in a group of people, I need you to answer for me, or with me, in solidarity, and if you can't do that, I need you to talk to that person....and tell them why it's inappropriate especially right now....

....I and we need you to step in front of us sometimes and take some of it. To step in front for just a minute and be your own teachers on racism and advocacy, for just a moment, while we stitch ourselves back together...

....Words matter, but so does silence. And the balance between the two is not for me to teach you, it's for you to learn. So I need you to show up and show out for us."

Shay Strachan, VP of Strategy, UCSF Health, shared (at 35.18 ), "....I am tired, but I remain optimistic. And I don't want pity, I want action. Do what you must and do what you can. I don't know what that is.....but I'll tell everyone, just as I tell my wife, who is also, listen, observe, and when you figure it out for yourself, stand up and act. Don't be afraid to act. You will make mistakes, but you must keep acting. And if you don't see a problem, sit down, read, listen, observe, question your humanity, and you will figure it out. Don't interfere until you figure it out."

Dr. Lee Atkinson-McEvoy , Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chair, Pediatric Primary Care and Population Health, shared this article about what things feel like right now: Maintaining Professionalism in the Age of Black De ath is....A Lot written by Shenequa Golding. The article begins, " I just witnessed the lynching of a black man, but don’t worry Ted, I’ll have those deliverables to you by end of day."

And last but not least, Dr. Matthew Bucknor , Associate Professor in Radiology and Watson Scholar, shared, "W riting gave me a way to grapple with difficult issues of race, racism, and identity that I hadn’t fully anticipated. And the deeper recognition that words are how we convince others to act, how we advocate for social justice— that was essential for me." Matt developed a writers’ workshop at UCSF designed for medical students of color. He shares his own writing, starting at 57:50 , that I will leave you with today:

Today, the sky is an impenetrable gray. Without shape or form or hint of light. Some mornings here, along the Pacific coastline, the colors take your breath away. Round, full pink and orange bands, alternating in layers, like a grapefruit split open. But today there is none of that, no contour to this mass of vapor that lingers, unmoved. It is a tired sky, a sky that is sorry that you expected more, that it has done its best for now. A sky that promises to double-down on that future filled of rainbow delight if you could only spare it this one day’s rest. The sky’s dreams come hard and fast, drifting to that moment 20 years ago when people once looked up, eyes glimmering with the relentless certainty that the glorious radiance of the future was here and now. It remembers the way the soft light looked on their faces, their pupils narrowed to pinholes against the morning sun. It remembers the growing shape of their hopes and dreams, the diminishing size of their fears. How not even Y2K could hold them back from the slow and relentless march into the future. Into a world without war, a world without disease, a world without race. I look up at today’s sky and try to forgive it the promises that it made. I try to remember that there is the light from the sun behind this gray mass of fog, and that without that sun, the darkness would overwhelm. But somehow today that offers no comfort, it is not enough, it has never been enough. The sky has rested enough for one day. 
-Matthew Bucknor

Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to Engage in Self-Care

Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work and Practicing Solidarity

Submit a One Good Thing Idea to Diane Sliwka, MD , Chief Physician Experience Officer at UCSF Health.