Following our union’s editorial on our blog — How Safe Is OHSU? — about the need for OHSU and Local 328 to do more to ensure an equitable and diverse community in the workplace, OHSU President Robertson released a statement calling for OHSU to be an “an inclusive culture that is safe and creates a respectful and healthy environment for all” and went on to talk about how health-care providers may face discrimination from patients and how that will not be tolerated.
Following a Portland Tribune article about an OHSU employee experiencing a noose being hung in her work area, OHSU announced that there will be a campus-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event on Friday, Jan. 13: “Dr. King’s legacy and commitment to social justice is a unifying moment for our campus community. As OHSU elevates its commitment to equity and inclusion, you are invited to join in reflecting on Dr. King’s teachings and embracing the challenges that we as individuals, our institution and our nation currently face in our collective struggle to realize his dream.”
Equity and inclusion is a larger issue than patients wanting to change doctors and celebrating Dr. King’s uplifting message. It is about broadening our vision. It is about taking action. It is about disrupting the status quo.
Dr. King said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
We need more than just words, more than easy and public actions — and not for only the privileged and visible.
Words and tributes may set the tone, declare our values and define a mission. Actions will reveal who we are. Are the rank-and-file working people at OHSU included in OHSU’s vision? Where is this articulated? Have they been invited to the table where decisions on OHSU’s actions will be made?
Are the working people of OHSU invited to participate in OHSU’s reflection and call-to-action event on Jan. 13? Will they be released for an hour or two from work to add their voices to this celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Or will the diverse working people of OHSU, those who don’t bring in big grants or bill insurance companies for their services, be conspicuous by their absence when Dr. King’s legacy is celebrated and OHSU “elevates its commitment to equity and inclusion”?