Eva’s Excerpt June 2020

The last few weeks and months we have experienced the atrocious killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor compounding hundreds of years of oppression, racism and inequity. We have witnessed police brutality, and peaceful protests that have been turned to violence and destruction. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the devastating effects of systemic and institutional racism and the resultant social determinants of health that afflict our region and many places across our nation. Recent studies have demonstrated the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on almost all our communities of color. Here in St Louis, African Americans are devastatingly over-represented among those who test positive for COVID-19, those who get sicker from the virus, and those who die.

These are not easy issues to solve. Fear, anger, rage, sadness, frustration, exhaustion. We are all feeling some version of these emotions and seeing them play out in our communities, our nation and the world. The social isolation brought by the pandemic makes managing these feelings even harder.

Many of us ask what we can do and question how we can make a difference. For each of us that answer is different and depends on our passions and perceptions, our resources and our responsibilities. For some the answer will be advocacy, education, doubling down on the work that feeds our purpose, volunteering or philanthropy. For others, it will be about making changes in ourselves, our local communities and families, serving as a role model, being an upstander or speaking out when we see something or someone that perpetuates hate and intolerance. All of these are important and all make a difference in changing the world we live in.

One thing I know for certain is that we cannot make a difference if we are not caring for ourselves. Take a break, take a walk, garden, take vacation days. Connect with others. Seek help, even and, perhaps most importantly, if you are not sure you need it. In this newsletter, we have listed the resources available to you as part of the Washington University family to support your wellness in this trying time. I implore you to use them.

And in closing, I ask us to care for one another. I read this piece from the BJC Newsletter and it really resonated with me. It describes the 11 Tenets of Companioning developed by Dr. Allen Wolfelt and offers guidance for someone caring for another who needs emotional support. While all 11 resonate, there are a few that seem particularly important to me and for me right now:  Companioning is about listening with the heart; it is not about analyzing with the head. Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing these struggles. Companioning is about learning from others; it is not about teaching them. Companioning is about curiosity; it is not about expertise. All wise words in times like these. May we all contribute to the sun rising on a better day tomorrow for ourselves, those we love, and the communities we serve.