FemInEM was founded as a community of allies and advocates supporting the careers of women in emergency medicine. From our inception, we have tried to be an organization that strives for equity and to address gender disparities in a way that empowers all physicians, regardless of gender. We recognize that one cannot strive for equity in one sector without working toward equity in every sector, which is why addressing systemic racism is fundamental to addressing systemic gender discrimination. Any injustice perpetrated against anyone, anywhere, cannot stand.
While working on the frontlines of the COVID19 pandemic we have seen the predictable effects of systemic racism and inequity embedded in our healthcare system. We vowed not just to take care of every patient who walks in the door but continue to call out and dismantle the structural barriers to equitable care that exist for so many of our patients and peers. This includes not only making sure emergency care is available to all people, but that there are physicians, nurses, physician assistants, paramedics and emergency medical technicians — providers at every level of healthcare — that reflect our patient populations and society writ large.
We know that a white coat does not protect our peers from the racism and bias that corrupts our society. We also know that once the stethoscope is out of view, whether on a car ride home, or asleep in their own beds, our Black colleagues are at mortal risk simply by existing in their skin. As physicians and sisters, we vow to use our own privileged voices to call this out in real time and work towards sustainable change.
This is not a new mission for FemInEM, but this does feel like a new moment, one where solidarity is at the forefront of change. We have always believed the burden of progress can never lie on the shoulders of the oppressed group and is never truer than the life and death moment we are in right now.
We are sending this out to affirm our commitment, publicly, and to ask you to continue to hold us accountable for this work. As women emergency physicians, there is little that shakes us to our core, yet here we are — witnessing the most recent murder of a Black man in broad daylight launch protests amidst a pandemic that had already pushed us to our own limits.
We will never fully understand how the weight of living in a white supremacist, patriarchal society impacts the daily lives of many of you, and we are increasingly aware of the ways in which we have perpetuated and enabled that very society. Therefore, we are committing to do the hard work, including ensuring that opportunity and leadership and culture within this organization is built with racial equity at the forefront.
FeminEM thinks of its work as building a raft. We must design and build this raft to support everyone.
With love, solidarity and a glimmer of hope.
Dara and Jenny, for everyone who identifies as a FemInEM