The answer to this question is important for us as individuals, as citizens of towns, cities, and states, as members of various racial/ethnic groups, as residents of the United States or other countries. This question can be applied to our departments, centers, and institutions, as well as to our profession as a whole. The answer to this question is critical as it defines our community and reflects to a large extent our values and what we stand for. It’s a question that is worth pondering from time to time, and we should not be satisfied with a superficial assessment or snap judgement. The answer is not an end unto itself. The answer can and should help us improve ourselves as individuals and our community as a collective.
The American Society for Investigative Pathology is above all else a community. Whereas the Society was founded over 100 years ago with a membership that was predominately male and Caucasian, we are now a community that is diverse in every sense of the word. We are inclusive and welcoming. We are men and women. We are young and old. We are working and retired. We work in academia, biotech, industry, non-profits, and government. We are a community of scientists, physicians, physician-scientists, and veterinarians. We were trained in various scientific disciplines and have varied professional experiences. We are a community of basic scientists, clinical investigators, and translational researchers. We work on all aspects of biomedical science, and utilize many different scientific approaches in our research. We live in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. We are citizens of many nations. We represent many races, ethnic groups, cultures, and religions. We come from families with varied socioeconomic and educational status. We are not all of the same sexual orientation or identity. We represent different political viewpoints. We are individuals.
We look forward to working with each of you as we continue on this journey. In the end, we hope and pray that the best qualities of our Society and its members will be reflected in our world-wide society at-large and its citizens.
So, what are we to do now to effect change in our professional society, our institutions, our communities, and the world at-large? Too often we conclude that we cannot individually contribute in a significant manner to problems as large as systemic racism and discrimination against members of specific groups. This mentality paralyzes us into inaction. The problem appears too enormous for the efforts of a single person or a small group of people. However, every positive action that we make chips away at the larger problem, no matter if that problem is in our professional society, our institutions, our communities, or the world at-large.
As Mother Teresa said – “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” We might not be able to provide opportunities to a hundred people, but we can offer opportunities to a few, and that will contribute to the larger solution. Change begins with us.