Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Unusual leaders come forward to help us in tough times

It is not every day that the head of the FBI and the head of the NYC Department of Health come forward with similar appeals, but that's what we've seen in the past few days. James B. Comey, director of the FBI, made an unusually direct address on the subject of policing and race. According to the NY Times report, "Mr. Comey said that his speech, which was well received by law enforcement officials, was motivated by his belief that the country had not 'had a healthy dialogue' since the protests began in Ferguson and that he did not 'want to see those important issues drift away.'" Mary Bassett, MD, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, said, "As New York City's health commissioner, I feel a strong moral and professional obligation to encourage critical dialogue and action on issues of racism and health." Her comments were also triggered by the events in Ferguson and Staten Island, and the ongoing protests those events had triggered. I am greatly encouraged by this powerful leadership urging us to keep talking. Charles Blow, NY Times columnist, brought some humor to this issue, urging us to recognize that, while we might not be involved in the perfect Truth and Reconciliation Meeting, we are having a "kaffeeklastch on race" that is moving us forward. In a social emergency, it is essential that leaders show the way. In response to a plea by the Design Studio for Social Intervention, architect Randy Collins sketched what we need to do: Cry for the victims, Contemplate the act, Cry out for Justice, Advocate for Change. I think we are moving on that path now.

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