Dear NIH Family,
On May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, NY, there was an anti-black hate crime motivated by violent extremism and white supremacy. Unfortunately, this shooting was not an anomaly. It emphasizes the long and painful history of hateful rhetoric that white supremacist ideology manifests. My heart aches when I hear of hate crimes against people of color. I immediately think of how the affected families will never be the same. The victims started their Saturday mornings shopping for groceries, as many of us do, yet their days ended in tragedy. People died and families’ lives were changed forever because of racial animus toward Black people in America.
This hate crime was driven by a conspiracy theory known as the ‘great replacement theory’. The theory espouses that white people are being replaced by non-whites. This theory has a long history in the United States, dating back to the 1920s. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the theory was derived in Europe in the 1900s, however, more recently, it’s been attributed to Renaud Camus, a French writer who wrote “Le Grand Replacement,” which translates to “The Great Replacement”.1 This is another painful reminder of the prevalence of institutional racism in our country.2 Here, in our NIH community, this event reminds us that we can take active steps to combat this issue by educating ourselves and being mindful that racism divides us—not race.3
This is why I believe educating people against their own biases—unfounded beliefs, and prejudice of others—is important work. I implore you to register for training through EDI such as Prevention of Workplace Harassment for Employees, Anti-Bullying, and Building an Inclusive Workplace for Employees. These are just a start to the conversation and in no way are complete in our fight toward equality. However, without taking proactive steps to unlearn past untruths, how can we move toward eradicating prejudice against others and dispel untruths that cause a great divide of our own preconceived notions of those who are different?
President Biden spoke out against this hate crime and explicitly stated a “call for action.” He stated, “one thing is clear; a racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of the repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand.”4
As President Biden said, “We must do everything in our power to end domestic fueled racism.” As the new Strategist for the Black Employment Portfolio here at the NIH, my goal is to build and foster relationships within my NIH family so that we can offer support to all employees. Whether you are a scientist, analyst, IT specialist, mail clerk, or administrative assistant, you are important to me! You sit in a position to create change as a member of this agency, our community, and in your home. I believe wholeheartedly as we work together, we can build and foster an inclusive community of belonging for all.
I live these days with a broken heart as I see the inequality and injustice that is faced by Black people. As such, I stand as an advocate for my community—for our community. I stand as a voice for those who feel that they do not have a voice. I stand in unity with each of you as we work together towards creating the change we want to see.
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