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The Diversity & Inclusion Blog

African American Employee Resource Group

Posted On: Wednesday, August 08, 2018 Posted By: Sibgha Javaid, Intern DIO Tags: African American Employee Resource Group, Employee Resource Groups

This group focuses on specific organizational issues impacting African American employees and patients. It promotes the recruitment, retention and career mobility of African Americans while helping to enhance a positive patient experience for all. The African American ERG is chaired by Sandra Brown.

Black History Month Bookmark In February 2017, the African American ERG sponsored an organization-wide Professional Development & Networking Event that brought together experts from different departments to share the events, programs, trainings, learnings, and development opportunities they have available for caregivers. In February 2018, the African American ERG helped celebrate Black History Month through the distribution of commemorative bookmarks displaying a poignant quote from Rosa Parks. The bookmarks were designed and created by the Diversity and Inclusion Office (DIO).

In April, 2018 the African American ERG co-sponsored a “Lunch and Learn” along with the Central Mass Tobacco Free Community Partnership, Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and the DIO titled: “Black Lungs/Black Lives: Documentary Film and Discussion.” The co-moderators of theBlack Lungs, Black Lives event were Mark Johnson MD, PhD (Chair and Professor of Neurosurgery) and Rebecca Ukaegbu (Medical Doctor Candidate 2019, UMASS Medical School). The speakers at the event were Guillame Poirer, PhD (Instructor of Psychiatry-Neuroimaging Research) and Thomas Houston, MD. The fifteen minute documentary was shown at the beginning of the event, and a discussion followed. Black Lungs/Black Lives is dedicated to investigating the successful targeting of the African American community with menthol products at the hands of the tobacco industry and how it has affected Black lives. Dr. Johnson and Ms. Ukaegbu led the discussion along with researchers Dr. Poirer and Dr. Houston on the chemical of menthol and tobacco disparities research. This event helped participants gain an increased awareness of mentholated tobacco in the African American community and learn how the industry specifically targeted them. Participants also gained insight into what research has been done in this area and the direction that new research will lead us in. This discussion also helped attendees think about health disparities in the global African American community, and increased awareness of the African American ERG.