Space for Racism in Veterinary Medicine

“There is no space in veterinary medicine for racism.” There is much I love about the shirt I’m wearing as I travel home from the 2021 AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference including:

  1. Danielle Lambert and the Snout School created it with proceeds going to the BlackDVM Network (cheers to Dr. Tierra Price!), and
  2. Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn, on behalf of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, purchased the shirts for the 70+ “Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable” folks that went through the Purdue D&I certificate program together in 2020. I am so appreciative of Jolle and all the other committed people that took the course together, got comfortable being uncomfortable in our regular zoom conversations, and continue to move the needle of inclusion in the areas that they influence.

The sentiment that there is no space for racism in veterinary medicine is a good one. And yet, every time I see or wear this shirt my first thought is, “yes there is”. There is quite a bit of space for racism, and all the other interrelated isms, in vet med. This fact is reinforced at every veterinary conference I attend. Through conversations I am involved in and conversations I overhear. By some of the questions I am asked and those that go unasked. AND YET (have I mentioned I love those two words?), I also hear and see the massive potential there is for leveraging collaboration and the diversity bonus to continue to move our profession in the right direction as we work together to mitigate that space that exists for racism.

As I look back over the past week I am grateful for

  • The folks that asked questions for the sake of understanding instead of being understood,
  • The attendees that listened intently to folks they disagreed with in the hopes of shedding some light on the things they suspect they don’t know they don’t know,
  • The people that spoke up and said things that they were uncomfortable saying,
  • The conversations sparked by the uncomfortable things that were said,
  • The acknowledgement and appreciation of the value of a growth mindset,
  • The simplicity and power of radical candor,
  • The beauty of everyday leadership in that every person regardless of role, background, or career stage can be a leader if they choose
  • Longtime friends and colleagues who I love and learn from during every encounter,
  • New friends and colleagues (including all the veterinary student rock stars) that I look forward to getting to know better,
  • And that today is going home day, my favorite day of any trip!

Cheers to you all. And to those engaged with the important work of making the veterinary profession more inclusive, more diverse, more equitable, and relevant – keep on keeping on.