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Published on May 29, 2020

Taking a Stand for Racial Justice

In an email to all employees, Cone Health CEO Terry Akin reflects on recent events in Minnesota and Georgia. He strongly encourages Cone Health staff to take a stand against racial injustice. 

Terry AkinIt saddens me greatly to have to write this message to you. By now, I’m sure you have seen the brutal, tragic news of yet another unarmed black man killed. George Floyd died Monday in Minneapolis, unable to breathe after a police officer held him down for seven minutes. This follows the recent death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger who was chased and fatally shot by two white men in Georgia. These killings are only the latest in a long list of similar tragedies.

As a husband, father and son myself, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain these incidents have caused. I also know that, as a white man, I have never had to deal with prejudice, discrimination or systemic racism that puts me in danger or degrades my very humanity based on the color of my skin. Yet, across our country and right here at home – in 2020, no less – black men are frequently targeted and even endangered based on their skin color. These men are our family members, our co-workers, our patients and our friends.

This is not right, and I am compelled to stand up against this, both personally and on behalf of Cone Health. Last year, I joined the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion coalition and promised to not only advance diversity and inclusion within our organization but also to check my personal bias, speak up for others and show up for all. As we honor our values and our commitment to being right here with all people, I encourage you to commit to doing one or all of the following things to take a stand:

  • Educate yourself – In this information age, you can explore and learn about almost anything. Take some time to learn more about our country’s history with racism,  and the impacts that we still see today. Here’s a resource to get you started.  
  • Challenge bias and racism – If you see something, say something. Be a voice against racism, one conversation at a time -- whether it’s with your friends, your family members, or your co-workers. Remember: Your silence implies tolerance of the attitude or behavior.
  • Attend an upcoming virtual “Inclusion Circle” led by the Employee Assistance Counseling Program and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that will serve as an outlet for employees to discuss their feelings of grief, hurt and concern. Please look for details soon.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Thank you for standing with us, taking action and living our values and brand promise by supporting racial justice for all. 

Terry Akin

CEO, Cone Health