August 4, 2022
Dear HSDM community,
I am excited to join you as the Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB). I look forward to working with you and welcome the opportunity to engage in productive dialogue. Thank you for affording me the privilege to share some perspectives about important issues that concern and affect us all.
Welcome is how you made me feel from the moment I stepped onto this place—a land of opportunity, where many come bearing gifts of expertise of noteworthy proportions. Bonjour, buenos días, sak pasé, what’s up, make up fragments of my collective identity. They identify layers of cultural intersectionality and shed light on how we are connected. Belonging is an inclusive state of being.
For true integration to exist, mutual acknowledgment is required. We must strive to be open to who people are; allow ourselves to receive the perspectives being shared, not as possessions to be harnessed or disabused but understood as personal experiences with emotional substance; and give them their due space in this reflection we call life. Embracing how we are different and alike shields us against internal and external biases and hatred. Therefore, acceptance, compassion, and togetherness are the scaffold upon which we are to build, empathetic humanity.
So, how can we expand our reach beyond the confines of these walls? Let us engage our skilled minds and flexible thoughts to preserve the integrity of that which is dear, practice cultural dexterity that aims to repair and not damage, and hold open the door of possibilities lest you feel intimidated by the enormity of righting past wrongs.
Openness is key to gleaning knowledge from diverse perspectives. Live and experience this day as an opportunity to illustrate superlatives of thought, practice, and action by lifting up one another without hesitation. Chutes and ladders are life’s natural cadence. But, let us choose to focus on an upward-facing journey for all. Do no harm, and care for one another in a manner that punctuates the significance of this unique privilege.
Crimson minds functioning at their best can extend beyond the aspirational. Good enough is just numbing medicine, and simply will not do. Accepting nothing short of success is a signature mindset. So, let us remember this charge, as we don our respective white coats. And for those of us who work sans white symbolic attire, our job is equally critical to the integrity of the professional collective. Yes, we have a lot of work to do but together we can, as Maya Angelou says—“rise.” To reach insurmountable summits with excellence, we can reflect on those who went before us. Nelson Mandela once said—“Change always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Fadie T. Coleman, PhD
Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging