Director's Message: Juneteenth

A Day of Reflection

These are extraordinary times and perhaps Juneteenth can be a day of reckoning and reflection for all of us associated with the Cancer Center. I applaud President Barbara Snyder and Provost Ben Vinson's decision to allow us all to pause and reflect by closing Case Western Reserve University today. Juneteenth has special meaning in our community and across the country.

We remember and celebrate July 4, Israel's Independence Day and many other special days of country and ethnic recognition. So, too with Juneteenth.

My reflection could be yours. A short book, The Origin of Others, by the wonderful author, Toni Morrison is her scholarly Norton Lectures delivered in 2016. In these lectures, she reviews racism and race in literature and her efforts to recount, expose and interpret hundreds of years of descriptions of Black people as they experienced the horrors of slavery and the hardship of freedom in a white American society that has yet to embrace Black values, contributions and special cultural contributions.

Toni is matter of fact, straight-shooting and almost calm in her description of countless examples of abuse and dismissal by white culture and those in authority. These issues run deep, and she reminds us that the term Race can substitute for Racism, but that the problem is the active term racism continues to permeate our society and culture and we need to face and learn of its harm. Take an hour to read Toni's wonderful short book, it is worth your time today, Juneteenth, or this weekend.

Along with facilitating our Day of Dialogue last Wednesday, CWRU has also created a centralized page for communications, resources and information related to recent events related to race, police and protest, and their larger context. Recordings from the Day of Dialogue are on the university’s website. CWRU's undergraduate student leaders have also compiled a number of resources, websites and books.

I encourage each of you to read, listen and learn, then consider next steps for yourself and our university. If you wish to share your reflections with Cancer Center leadership, via blog or any creative medium of your choice, you may do so anonymously using this form or by emailing CWRU is also welcoming questions and comments for university leadership, if you would like to share your thoughts.

Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center