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Commemorating Native American Heritage Month | November 3, 2021

November is Native American Heritage Month and the Lineberger Equity Council is celebrating and recognizing the many impactful contributions of our Native colleagues as well as their rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories. This month also reiterates the importance of raising awareness about the challenges Native communities face.

UNC Lineberger’s Marc Emerson, PhD, MPH, who identifies as Diné and is an enrolled member of Navajo Nation, has dedicated his cancer research career to developing an integrated understanding of how lived experience, accessing care, mental health and disease characteristics affect cancer outcomes.

“Coming from a population with some of the most pressing public health crises has sustained and grounded my passion for pursuing research in sustainable health equity. A part of that goal is to leverage my relationality as Diné to other BIPOC/marginalized communities,” said Emerson, who recently joined the UNC Lineberger faculty as an assistant professor of epidemiology at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Emerson’s current research focus incorporates perspective and knowledge from indigenous and Western experiences as a valid and useful means of generating more comprehensive insights about cancer

“I think it is important for us all to collectively share the burden of educating ourselves on the overall question of ‘how did we end up here?’,” Emerson said, “particularly as it relates to environmental and cancer etiology among Native communities. Framing current day cancer health in Native communities in a longer trajectory of colonial violence is example of this education.”

Emerson said it is important to hold ourselves and each other accountable, and he said “Ahéhee’” – thank you in Navajo – to everyone for acknowledging and celebrating growth.

Learn more on the traditions and cultural practices that are still an important part of the Native culture that will be carried forward to future generations.

Lineberger Equity Council letter to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center | August 23, 2021

Dear Lineberger Community,

The last year has seen a call to action in how we respond to issues affected by race that are not mindful of equity or inclusion. Beginning with the murder of George Floyd and, more recently, the events surrounding the recruitment of Nikole Hannah-Jones, this has been an especially difficult period. Because of thoughtful leadership awakened to the need for change, the Lineberger Equity Council was formed.

During the past nine months this 32-member group has gathered the input of the many UNC Lineberger constituencies and stakeholders, including a diverse mix of professional staff, clinicians, patients, patient advocates, researchers, trainees, faculty and leadership. We have evaluated our environment and deliberated about improvements through an equity lens. The result of this work is the creation of a prioritized list of actionable areas for which to implement focused, meaningful, and measurable change.

Areas to be addressed include five areas:

  1. First and foremost, we must dismantle ineffective systems that currently block Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and underrepresented groups from equity and advancement and install new systems that promote opportunity for all.
  2. It’s important to recruit and retain staff, faculty, clinicians, and institutional leaders who reflect the diversity of the population we serve. We must develop and implement robust educational strategies and certification programs for search committees responsible for recruiting and hiring staff and faculty — strategies that bring awareness of existing and building of new pipelines to recruit BIPOC and other underrepresented groups into cancer-related careers and leadership opportunities. We need greater transparency and must examine and improve our hiring, retention, promotion, and leadership appointment practices for all positions.
  3. Equity must be integral to the conduct of research and clinical trial recruitment. For example, we can expand upon the already existing opportunities to infuse DEI into internal funding mechanisms. To do so, we will need to systematically identify diverse, underrepresented populations who qualify for clinical trials, track their experiences and outcomes consistently, and make it possible for researchers to engage and share with these groups. To further enhance this work, we must also develop processes, data collection procedures, and personnel who are able to ensure that research is conducted with this equity lens.
  4. Clinical care is another area that requires attention. We know that cancer care disparities have been persistent for decades and are nearly universal. We need to be able to measure these differences in real time, right here, so we can build systems to address patients falling out of care before it is too late. Our goal is to be one of the first NCI comprehensive cancer centers in the country to build transparent systems and interventions to solve inequitable cancer care and outcomes. How we deliver equitable care to UNC Lineberger patients can be different. It is our duty to deliver optimal care to our patients, every day, at every encounter.
  5. Finally, and, in many ways, most importantly, our culture needs to be consciously understood and addressed. At UNC we pride ourselves on having a collaborative culture and workplace. That alone isn’t enough. Ours must be a culture that does not tolerate aggressions from either colleagues or patients. We must have an environment that promotes open and frank communication that includes responsiveness and never permits retaliation. We must foster a system where all faculty and staff feel that opportunities are available for mentorship, sponsorship, support, and advancement. Training, education, meetings dedicated to DEI issues, and a DEI component for evaluations are all envisioned as part of the toolbox to achieve these

If all or some of these issues touch your heart, we encourage you to join the efforts to change our environment. There are many ways to do so. You can be an active champion in your department or area of work. You can participate in the trainings and discussions ahead. When the call comes in the months ahead, you can join the Equity Council in one of the Implementation Committees.

To all who have felt stress and discouragement in the months behind us, and particularly, to our BIPOC colleagues on faculty and staff, we say, please stay and work with us to follow this blueprint for change to make Lineberger what we hope will be a beacon on the path to equity.

Wendy R. Brewster, MD, PhD
Co-chair, Lineberger Equity Council Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Barbara Alvarez Martin, MPH
Assistant Director of Community Outreach and Engagement and Population Sciences, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center

Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN
Associate Professor of Nursing

Marjory Charlot, MD, MPH, MSc
Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Assistant Director, Community Outreach and Engagement

Stephanie Duncan, MHA, BSN, RN
Director, Oncology Operations, NC Cancer Hospital

Stuart Gold, MD
Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics Chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

Samuel Cykert, MD
Co-chair, Lineberger Equity Council Professor of Medicine

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Oliver Smithies Investigator, Professor and Chair, Department of Genetics

Bernard Weissman, PhD
Professor of Pathology and Lab Medicine Co-Associate Director, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center

Stephanie Wheeler, PhD, MPH
Professor of Health Policy and Management, Associate Director, Community Outreach and Engagement, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center

Lauren Matthews, MPH
Project Director, Lineberger Equity Council

Statement on Nikole Hannah-Jones | June 23, 2021

Dear Members of the UNC Board of Trustees:

The Lineberger Equity Council, a 33-member board of dedicated faculty, staff, trainees, and patient advocates, is committed to building systems that enable the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to deliver the best care, be the best funded, train the best clinicians and scholars, and produce and disseminate the best and most impactful research in the United States. To succeed in these aims we must recruit and retain highly accomplished and diverse investigators, clinicians, and staff.

The meritorious assessment of tenure is a systematic process thoroughly vetted by faculty and has never before been thwarted by the Board of Trustees. Mrs. Nikole Hannah-Jones is a MacArthur Foundation Genius, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a Carolina master’s degree graduate and 2019 recipient of the prestigious UNC Distinguished Alumna Award.  A failure to grant tenure to Mrs. Hannah-Jones is contrary to the longstanding process of faculty governance and the faculty’s and university’s leadership of thorough vetting of this and all tenure applicants.

We have great pride in our exceptional research atmosphere and training, the clinical care we deliver, and our dedication to serving the state of North Carolina. The Board of Trustees’ actions have created a high level of disappointment and disillusionment among many faculty, trainees, and staff who are members of the Lineberger Equity Council. This group believes that this action will decrease the esteem and success of our great institution. Lack of action by the Board of Trustees has national repercussions, giving rise to opportunities for institutions with greater financial resources than ours to target our valuable faculty and staff.

We are deeply concerned that this erosion of academic integrity threatens the very essence of what makes Lineberger one of the top cancer research and care institutions in our country.

We join Dr. Chapman and the united voices of UNC faculty researchers, students, clinicians, and staff in urging the Board of Trustees to immediately restore the integrity of the faculty tenure process and the faith that accomplished women of color will be treated with the same fairness as other outstanding scholars who wish to teach, to lead, and to pursue scholarship from within our great institution.

Sincerely,

The executive core of the Lineberger Equity Council:

Wendy R. Brewster, MD, PhD

Co-chair, Lineberger Equity Council

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Samuel Cykert, MD

Co-chair, Lineberger Equity Council

Professor of Medicine

Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN

Associate Professor of Nursing

Marjory Charlot, MD, MPH, MSc

Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Assistant Director, Community Outreach and Engagement

Stephanie Duncan, MHA, BSN, RN

Director, Oncology Operations, NC Cancer Hospital

Stuart Gold, MD

Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

Barbara Alvarez Martin, MPH

Assistant Director of Community Outreach and Engagement and Population Sciences,

UNC Lineberger Cancer Center

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD

Oliver Smithies Investigator, Professor and Chair, Department of Genetics

Bernard Weissman, PhD

Professor of Pathology and Lab Medicine

Co-Associate Director, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center

Stephanie Wheeler, PhD, MPH

Professor of Health Policy and Management,

Associate Director, Community Outreach and Engagement, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center

Lauren Matthews, MPH

Project Director, Lineberger Equity Council

Cc:

Shelton Earp, MD

Director, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

hse@med.unc.edu

Kevin M. Guskiewicz, PhD

Chancellor, UNC at Chapel Hill

Office of the Chancellor

chancellor@unc.edu

Wesley Burks, MD

Dean, UNC School of Medicine

Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs

CEO, UNC Health

wburks@email.unc.edu

Christy Page, MD, MPH

Executive Dean, UNC School of Medicine

Cristy_page@med.unc.edu

Barbara K. Rimer, PhD

Dean, Gillings School of Global Public Health

brimer@unc.edu

Angela Kashuba, BScPhm, PharmD, DABCP, FCP

Dean, Eshelman School of Pharmacy

esop_dean@unc.edu

Nilda (Nena) Peragallo Montano, DrPH, RN, FAAN

Dean, School of Nursing

npm@email.unc.edu

Julie Byerley, MD, MPH

Interim Dean, School of Dentistry

julie_byerley@med.unc.edu

Susan King, MA

Dean, Hussman School of Journalism and Media

susanking@unc.edu

Mimi V. Chapman

Chair of the Faculty

mimi@email.unc.edu

Office of Faculty Governance

facgov@unc.edu

Statement on Juneteenth | June 19, 2021

Today we commemorate Juneteenth, a newly established federal holiday, to celebrate the day when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation. Juneteenth National Independence Day is the 12th legal public holiday and was signed into law just yesterday on Thursday, June 18, 2021.

We appreciate the rich culture that formed from years of Juneteenth celebrations with storytelling, family gatherings, and barbecues. We reflect on the importance of emancipation and share stories that have been passed down about the original date of June 19th, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger made the proclamation in Texas that all slaves were free. We rejoice in remembrance of that significant day.

We also remember and reflect on the horrific institution of slavery that pervaded the United States from the early 1600s until the late 1800s and the injustices that persist in many forms today depriving Black Americans of safety, jobs and equity. We remember the violence and pain of slavery and mourn how prejudice and racism continue to exist within American people, institutions and systems.

Let Juneteenth serve as a continued call to action to end systemic racism. The past two years have especially exposed inequities in the health care, social educational and criminal justice systems. The Lineberger Equity Council is proud to be part of the work of dismantling racism, and we hope you will join us in this fight. In the meantime, we commemorate Juneteenth with you as a symbol of progress and hope.

Statement on Pride Month | June 2, 2021

Welcome to LGBTQ Pride Month! LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every June to commemorate the Stonewall uprising in 1969 in Manhattan. In the early morning hours of June 28th police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay establishment, and forcibly removed patrons and employees from the premises leading to six days of riots.

Pride month recognizes the contributions and impact of the LGBTQ community across the globe. It also raises awareness of the tragic hate crimes and prejudice experienced by the LGBTQ community and the need to continue to fight for greater equity and inclusion.  The last Sunday of the month is Gay Pride Day marked by parades, parties, community events and speeches.

There are several wins to celebrate in 2021. The Biden administration issued executive orders (EO 13988EO 13985EO 14004EO 14020EO 14021) during its first 100 days that will directly affect LGBTQ people, their families, and their communities in advancing equal treatment under the law, no matter gender identity or sexual orientation. And on March 31st, 2021, President Biden issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing a Transgender Day of Visibility. The advances for LGBTQ rights have been enormous, but there is still a long way to go in creating an environment that instills dignity and equal rights for every person.

The Lineberger Equity Council wishes to lead by example. This year, our LGBTQ faculty were instrumental in helping to ease the burden of the pandemic by providing flexibility in teaching schedules and obligations. Forward Together indeed.

Here is a timeline of historic moments in LGBTQ history.

Statement on 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre | June 1, 2021
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the loss of hundreds of Black lives and the destruction of the ideal of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street due to the actions and calculations of a white mob. Let’s focus this awful remembrance on the need to root out racial inequity and the task of painstakingly building measurable systems around racial justice and equity now at UNC Lineberger and in our communities. Here is more information about the Tulsa Race Massacre and the impact it has had on the black community today. 

Statement on the Anniversary of George Floyd’s Murder | May 24, 2021

Today we remember George Floyd – a loving son, father of five children, oldest brother of five, and beloved friend to many. Last year on this day, we witnessed his tragic killing, exposing the rampant systemic racism and police violence that still permeates this country. While this tragedy ignited the fight for justice for Black lives, it came at the great cost of George Floyd’s life. Today, we mourn the unjust murder of an innocent man and the many other innocent lives of Black men and women who are taken by police violence and the criminal justice system daily.

While the guilty verdicts brought upon Derek Chauvin are a start in the fight for justice, there is still a long road towards executing lasting change to our nation’s policing and criminal justice system. While we await policy change such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 and look to attain further steps in the direction of justice, we remember George Floyd and what he now represents – evidence that change must happen, the formation of an organized fight for racial justice, and a beacon of hope for dismantling structural racism, implementing accountability, and achieving equity.

Statement on Derek Chauvin’s Trial | April 20, 2021

This evening a guilty verdict was announced in the Derek Chauvin trial. Our hearts are with George Floyd’s family and friends. George Floyd’s death on a city street in the middle of the day catalyzed a nationwide examination of the structural systems, and our individual actions that limit so many from reaching their full potential and receiving similar opportunities for employment, education and health.

This verdict ends a single trial. It also reminds us how important it is for us to unite in the work underway at UNC Lineberger and elsewhere to bring diversity, equity and inclusion into the areas of:

  • Patient and clinical care
  • Accrual to clinical trials
  • Retention and recruitment
  • Education training and onboarding
  • Culture and climate
  • Enhancing research with an equity lens

We sincerely hope that we can continue to move forward and speak more openly with each other so that the sea change of awareness will transform into a sea change of practice.

Statement on Racial Violence towards Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders | March 22, 2021

With the continued political strife and the arrival of COVID-19, violence against Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities has increased in the United States. The most recent event was the death of six Asian and Asian American individuals in Georgia. At UNC Lineberger, we denounce this rising violence and offer our full support to fostering an inclusive environment for all Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander faculty, staff, students and members of our community.

More specifically, we are committed to providing an environment that is welcoming and equitable. To honor this commitment, as the Lineberger Equity Council, we are raising awareness about establishing and fostering an environment that enables each of us to contribute to our fullest potential. Additionally, we have held listening sessions across UNC Lineberger and the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, encouraging participation and application of a racial equity approach and lens. This educational effort has included learning and sharing about institutional racism, historical considerations, and the proactive steps necessary to combat inequity and racism in our communities.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct clearly prohibits discrimination and harassment based on protected class identity. We encourage all members of our community who have experienced harassing or discriminatory treatment based on any protected identity to contact the UNC Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office for reporting options and additional resources. Also, please know there are resources available at UNC, including the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)UNC Asian American Center and North Carolina Asian Americans Together.  Most importantly, if you are facing the threat of violence, please contact Campus Safety/Campus Police at (919) 962-8100.

Statement on Black History Month | February 26, 2021

February marks Black History Month, which is a time to commemorate and reflect on remarkable African American trailblazers who have left enduring legacies by igniting a desire for hope and change. As this month comes to a close, the UNC Lineberger Equity Council would like to encourage you to continue celebrating black history throughout the year. To get you started, we’ve gathered a list of inspiring films, documentaries, books and podcasts from influential Black creatives, including Ava DuVernay, Henry Louis Gates, and James Baldwin.

We hope this list will inspire you, influence you and challenge you to learn more about the Black experience. Please feel free to share this list (Black History Year 2021) with your family and friends.