I recently attended ACEP’s Diversity Summit, spearheaded by ACEP President-Elect Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP, as part of the diversity initiative that will be a key part of her presidency. Professionally, thank you Dr. Parker for your vision and leadership, and personally, I thank you for your invitation to the Diversity Summit. I learned a few things about myself, and more importantly, I learned about others.
In one of the early activities for attendees at the summit, we were asked to tell the others in our small group of three why we believed we were invited to attend. It was clear to me why others were present, as they were representing diverse groups of the College, but why me? I noted that I suspect Dr. Parker asked me because she knows I am sensitive to the issues of cultural diversity and have always tried to express my open support. However, one of my group members said, that’s not why you are here—you are here because hearing the message from someone who doesn’t need to tell it is powerful. In other words, no one is surprised to hear a woman advocate for gender equality or an African-American speak to the need for racial equality, but when the issue becomes important to those who are not directly in the line of fire and there’s a realization that we are all negatively impacted by bias and insensitivity, it becomes everyone’s issue.
We will never all be alike and nor would we want to be. There are many characteristics that make us diverse. Unfortunately, society tends to focus on obvious and easily detectable differences (eg, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation). We may never know the countless ways each of us differs from the next. Those differences may be a source of intrigue, but not admonishment or judgment.