As healthcare and business professionals – and most importantly, as compassionate humans – we know that Black Lives Matter.
The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, and countless other lives that have been lost due to structural violence and systemic racism are a jarring wake-up call for our community. George Floyd was a beloved figure in Third Ward, a community neighboring the Texas Medical Center, where many of us work and live. We mourn the loss of our neighbor and so many others and we resolve to combat racism in our community. Together, these events remind us that we are part of a larger community – one that is hurting, angry, and aggrieved.
Furthermore, these tragedies have occurred against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color in terms of access to care, cases, and deaths. Yet the pandemic-related disparities are only the latest feature of the fraught relationship between medicine and Black Americans: medicine has subjugated and exploited Black subjects and patients, erased the contributions of Black scholars, and erected or maintained barriers for access for Black individuals. The pandemic is merely shining a light on the institutional and systemic racism that Black Americans have experienced for centuries. This disease has reinforced the need to innovate healthcare to ensure a better future for all.
We do not take our privilege for granted, and we understand this position means we have a duty to serve as leaders within our community. The racism that we see on the news and social media exists within our institutions; for example, #BlackInTheIvory on Twitter is a collection that illustrates how racism affects our neighbors and colleagues. Regardless of background, it is incumbent on all of us to stand together and fight for equality and justice.
As a result, Enventure leadership has been asking ourselves this question: What can we, as Enventure, do to support the cause? We aim to be a home for medical innovators - inclusive of race or religion, color and creed - to help individuals reach their fullest potential. Through our network of scientists, clinicians, innovators, inventors, and leaders, we will fight for racial justice at a community grassroots level, in order to help bring about change at the structural, institutional, and policy level.
As an organization, we can also drive change by educating and empowering our members to become advocates and fighters in their own right. There are many options for all of us as individuals to better ourselves and our community. A non-exhaustive list of the things we recommend:
Read / watch / discuss (and listen). Seek out others and help each other along the path of anti-racism. There are many catalysts for discussion, but we must be open to listening if we are to change. The following resources are good places to start:
Support. We can lift up Black businesses and organizations through our choices and our dollars. Where we go and what we do can make a difference - as an example, we can choose to eat at Black-owned restaurants (Frenchy's, Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack, Reggae Hut, Lucille's, etc.) instead of national chains. For those that are financially able, here are a few organizations doing great work that can use your assistance:
Vote. The easy part - go to Vote.org and make sure you're registered to vote. The hard part - commit to being an informed voter. (If you are not able to vote, become informed and convince your friends and loved ones who can!) This takes work. Read up on the issues, study the candidates, and make sure you know what's going on at all levels, not just the federal level or what shows up on the news. Here are a few resources that will help you think about and use your vote more effectively:
On the eve of Juneteenth, we acknowledge that there remains much to be done to dismantle the institutions and systems that perpetuate racism. Enventure is an organization focused on entrepreneurship and medical innovation, but we are more than that. We will work to become culturally competent and socially conscious professionals, and we will also fight for racial justice in our institutions, community, and beyond. This will no doubt be an ongoing process – we will commit to tracking and informing the community and ourselves of our progress. When everyone can participate, unhindered by prejudice or barriers, both the innovation ecosystem and larger Houston community are stronger.
Correction: A previous version of this statement overstated our current actions and misnamed the Association for Graduate Student Diversity (BCM) and the Association for Minority Biomedical Researchers (UTH) as Black organizations.