Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Statement on Violence and Racism against Asians

March 26, 2021

Dear Community,

On behalf of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis, we condemn the murders in Atlanta of eight people, six of whom were Asian women. We are horrified by this senseless loss of life. We further denounce the continued gun violence and too frequent mass shootings that are unnecessarily becoming commonplace in the United States. Gun violence is a public health crisis.

We condemn the anti-immigrant xenophobia that has always harmed the AAPI communities, but has now been fueled by hurtful rhetoric surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and ignited an increase in violent attacks. We also recognize the intersection of racism and sexism that aims a disproportionate arrow of violence toward Asian women. Furthermore, we stand united against the increase in anti-Asian racism and intersections with xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

We acknowledge the pain and trauma AAPI endure, not just recently, but throughout the history of this country. We denounce silence and support the reporting of incidents of hate, violence, and discrimination. Along with our University leaders, we stand in support of everyone impacted and encourage the use of the additional resources available to everyone at our institution.

It is not enough to condemn. Our department is committed to collective change. We are actively working towards more inclusion, diversity, equity, and advancement in the Department of OB/GYN and at Washington University School of Medicine.

#StopAAPIHate

In solidarity,
Dineo Khabele, MD
Mitchell & Elaine Yanow Professor and Chair
Washington University School of Medicine

Co-created with members of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology:

Vinita Alexander, MD
Kelly Ball, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC
Ebony B. Carter, MD, MPH
Carla Chung, RN, BSN, C-EFM
Jeffrey Dicke, MD
David Eisenberg, MD, MPH
Katherine C. Fuh, MD, PhD
Diana L. Gray, MD
Regina Huang, MS
Jeannie Kelly, MD, MS

Marcy Livingston
Caitlin Martin, MD, MS
Caroline Min, MD
Jane Muckerman, RN, BSN
Megan Oakes, MD
Kenan R. Omurtag, MD
Dana Schull
Abigail Zamorano, MD, MPHS
Fan Zhang, MD, MS

Resource Links

Statement on Anti-Black Racism

Dear Community,

I joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis as its 9th Chair on June 1, 2020. While excited to take on this new role, I must admit this is a difficult time. As a Black woman, I am outraged that we have to keep reminding the world that Black Lives Matter. I am more motivated than ever to work for change and I am proud to join with colleagues in our department in this statement.

On behalf of the department, we deplore the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and so many more Black lives extinguished at the hands of police brutality and racist violence. Their deaths represent graphic and repellent extremes of anti-Black racism in our society.

As clinicians caring for patients at Washington University Medical Center/Barnes-Jewish Hospital, we raise our voices to break the silence that compounds the trauma in our communities. And we speak up to acknowledge systemic racism against Black lives in medicine and science within our walls, the St. Louis community, and beyond.

This is deeply personal for us. We share the despair, anger, and heartbreak. We recognize that women’s health impacts the health of families and communities. We acknowledge racism, not race, is a public health problem. As obstetricians and gynecologists in St. Louis, we witness how Black women are dying prematurely and disproportionately from complications of pregnancy, women’s cancers, and now, COVID-19. As physicians, clinicians, healthcare workers, researchers, and educators, we take seriously our privilege and responsibility to be part of the solution.

As a department, we commit to take time and space to acknowledge the traumatic effects of anti-Black racism on students, trainees, staff, faculty and patients. We commit to listen and learn. We commit to develop anti-racist curricula, diversify our medical and scientific workforce, and provide mentorship and support to create the next generation of diverse leaders in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. We commit to take action for equitable access to patient-centered healthcare that is inclusive of Black lives. We commit to heal relationships with our communities from our past failings. We commit to keep challenging ourselves and our society to work collectively for change.

We are committed. Let’s get to work!

Dineo Khabele, MD
Mitchell & Elaine Yanow Professor and Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Washington University School of Medicine

Co-created with:
Ebony B. Carter, MD, MPH
Jeffrey Dicke, MD
Sarah England, PhD
David L. Eisenberg, MD, MPH
Katherine C. Fuh, MD, PhD
Chiarra Ghetti, MD, MSc
Jeannie Kelly, MD
Diana L. Gray, MD
Andrea Hagemann, MD, ,MSCI
Jerry L. Lowder, MD, MSc
L. Stewart Massad, MD
Kenan R. Omurtag, MD
Matthew A. Powell, MD

In August, 2020, multiple medical societies involved in women’s healthcare released a joint statement on collective action addressing racism. We, in the specialty of OBGYN, have historical ties to racism. “For example, the mid-1800s surgical experimentation of James Marion Sims leading to successful treatment of vesicovaginal fistula was performed on enslaved Black women, including three women, Betsey, Lucy, and Anarcha, who underwent repetitive gynecologic procedures without consent.”

Read the ACOG joint statement here >>