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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion During this Unprecedented Time: Call to Arms

May 6, 2020

Now is not the time for blame. Now is not the time for pointing the finger at specific communities. For example, individuals of African descent received bias during the Ebola outbreak and the LGBTQIA community experienced discrimination during information sharing about HIV/AIDS. Let’s not continue this behavior with respect to students, faculty and professional staff of Asian decent for the blame of COVID-19. We are at a stage of growth and change, not misaligned culpability and fault.

COVID-19, and the resulting pandemic, has world-wide impact. However, we cannot negate there are local impacts as well. During any type of crisis, underserved populations and communities are the most adversely impacted. An outcome of this pandemic is the creation of communities historically unfamiliar with unemployment, food insecurities and other social injustices. Similarly and as tragic, are behaviors directed at persons in the community who have tested positive for the virus but are able to quarantine at home. Diversity Best Practices just released an article “Implications of COVID-19 and Bias” sharing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s fear of the degree of stigmatization of persons diagnosed with the coronavirus but survived. This is not a time for shaming or finger pointing, but instead a moment to embrace and celebrate those who have recovered as they re-enter society.

A formula for making a tragic situation worse is to add stigma and fear. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) stigmatized persons are less likely to seek medical treatment when symptomatic due to fear of reprisals and harm. Couple this fear with social isolation and this is a Petri dish for escalation of anxiety, stress and trauma. As such, for CNHP, a community of health professionals and soon to be health professionals, knowledge of what this pandemic can yield is critical for increased awareness of equity and inclusion moving forward in healthcare.

CNHP desires students to learn how to meet the needs of patients, consumers, clients, etc. for post COVID-19 interventions. Students must be prepared to address populations historically not familiar with disparity nor stigma, and at the same time continuing to meet the needs of historically marginalized populations also effected by the pandemic.

Therefore, the Board of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is suggesting a Call to Arms for all faculty, students and professional staff. If there is stigmatization, shaming, blaming or finger pointing transpiring in classrooms or in the curriculum, call out these infractions, dialogue to correct and move forward. During this time of decentralization of classrooms and professionals it would be easy to ‘overlook’ a statement made online or to disregard a discussion board comment. However, we challenge you to not disregarded these items, but instead use them as catalysts for generating a more informed community of existing and soon to be providers of healthcare both nationally and internationally.

Written by Veronica Carey, PhD, CPRP
Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chair of the Board of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Center for Disease Control

World Health Organization (WHO)