Dear PharmDawg Nation:
One of my favorite, albeit newest, traditions at UGA is lighting up Sanford Stadium at the beginning of the fourth quarter of football games. The sense of community and common purpose that comes from such a small gesture is a poignant declaration of solidarity for our beloved dawgs. I was so taken by this symbolic action that I incorporated a similar experience in my inaugural address as the incoming President of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) in 2018. In my remarks, I spoke of the importance of supporting, connecting and including others as foundational tenets of the profession of pharmacy. As I concluded my presentation, I challenged the attendees to stand, turn on their cell phone flashlights, and hold their phones aloft as a symbol of their pledge to always support, connect, and include others.
The events of the past week have cast an ugly beam on the racial inequities and injustices felt across our communities. The lights of too many Black Americans are being extinguished. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery had lights that burned brightly for themselves and their loved ones. And yet, they were extinguished. They are not the only ones. I venture to say we all know someone whose light has been extinguished or who fights every day to keep their light burning.
Black Lives Matter. Period.
Supporting…Connecting…Including Others. These words must not be rhetoric. They must be core values that become verbs – action items and a part of our daily practice if society is to survive. As pharmacists, scientists, staff and students serving in the healthcare profession, we have a moral obligation to care for others with dignity, compassion and unbridled equality, regardless of race, creed, gender, economic status, religion – and even skin color.
To our Black students, faculty, staff, alumni, preceptors, supporters, and other members of our community who have experienced the pain of social injustice – our hearts break for the prejudices you have experienced. As a family, we must journey together towards equality and freedom from racism. To all the PharmDawg Nation, I ask you to not only to support, connect, and include ALL – but to ACT. Shine your light brightly, and shine it for everyone so that equality perpetually reigns.
Stay healthy and safe,
Kelly M. Smith, Dean
UGA College of Pharmacy