• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Feature: The Intersection of DEI, Trauma, and Public Policy

    Dr. Cherisse Berry

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    The Intersection of DEI, Trauma, and Public Policy

    Cherisse Berry, MD FACS
    Chair, AAST DEI Committee

    The recent events of gun violence in Buffalo, NY, Laguna Woods, CA, and Uvalde, TX highlight the important and unique intersection of diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI), trauma, and public policy, and why we as trauma and acute care surgeons must be aligned in our collective voices to advocate for systemic change.  Part of the mission of the AAST DEI Committee is to “advocate for issues that affect disadvantaged patient populations”.  On May 14th, 2022, a radicalized white supremacist targeted a supermarket in a predominantly Black community, killing 10 people and wounding 3 with an AR-15.   A teacher, a dedicated community activist, a retired police lieutenant, a church deacon, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers all perished while simply shopping for groceries.  They were targeted by hate and murdered because of the melanin in their skin.  Two days later, a predominantly Taiwanese American church was targeted in a politically motivated hate crime.  The lone gunman killed one, a physician, and injured 5 people.  Eight days later, 19 mostly Mexican American elementary school children, ages 10 and 11, and two teachers were viciously murdered while in school by an 18-year-old using an AR-15. While they did not survive, 17 more children and teachers were injured, transported to local hospitals, and treated by our colleagues.  With 214 US mass shootings occurring in 2022 so far, gun violence is clearly a public health epidemic.  Innocent men, women, and children especially those `from marginalized, vulnerable, and under-represented groups have been slaughtered…some unrecognizable from their injuries.  Families and communities have been destroyed.  Our nation and the world are vicariously traumatized almost daily by the horrific images and the unimaginable pain the families of the victims must now live through.


    We as trauma and acute care surgeons have a responsibility to not be silent on this issue. We are at the intersection of DEI, trauma, and public policy, and it is time for all trauma societies and surgical organizations to come together and align in one powerful voice to advocate for our patients by calling for the federal assault weapons ban to be reinstituted and for gun safety reform.  Data shows mass shooting-related homicides in the US were reduced during the years of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994 to 2004.1 We cannot allow the fear of partisanship or politics to muffle our voices in the face of the exponential growth of mass shootings and death from gun violence. Our voices are powerful, should be heard, and should be heard loudly.  Silence equals complicity. Enough is enough. We must have the moral courage and the determination to stand firm in the support and advocacy for gun safety reform.




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