Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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DEI Newsletter

PSCCM DEI Statements



Ahead of the upcoming weekend we hoped you might spend a few moments (or more) reflecting on Juneteenth or Freedom Day. Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Deriving its name from combining “June” and “nineteenth”, it is celebrated on the anniversary of the order issued by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy to grant freedom.

We thank David Schwartz for bringing to our attention an article from the June 2023 issue of Cell: Juneteenth in STEMM and the barriers to equitable science, by Alfred Mays and 51 other Black scientists who establish the context of Juneteenth in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine and discuss barriers that Black scientists face. The authors call us to reimagine DEI by embracing strategies to improve equity, and in so doing, truly advance science to where it should be. We encourage everyone to take a look:


Although the first Juneteenth was celebrated on June 19, 1866 it did not become a national holiday until 2021. To celebrate the third (and 158th) Juneteenth, here are a few resources to check out this weekend:

  1. There is a fantastic webpage of stories, media, facts, flavors, book recommendations, and more that has been put together by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (https://nmaahc.si.edu/juneteenth-digital-toolkit)
  5. A reminder that we are fortunate to live in Colorado where Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday (https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/06/09/nearly-half-of-states-now-recognize-juneteenth-as-an-official-holiday/)
  9. Voices of freed enslaved people recorded and stored forever in the Library of Congress (https://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2020/06/the-birth-of-juneteenth-voices-of-the-enslaved/ https://www.loc.gov/collections/voices-remembering-slavery/about-this-collection/)
  13. A few interesting reads from the NY Times about the foods of Juneteenth (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/dining/juneteenth-food-slavery-abolition.html and https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/dining/juneteenth-food-black-chefs.html)
  17. Within the Juneteenth in STEMM article are two Voices articles where the journal asked several Black scientists what Juneteenth means to them in the context of STEMM. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(23)00530-5
  21. How do DEI initiatives impact STEMM and why do we still need them?   https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(23)00534-2
  25. How can the language we use in academic medicine hinder or enhance our ability to address the systemic barriers to health equity established during slavery? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9575627
  29. Denver Post opinion piece on SCOTUS’ possible decision on ending race-conscious admissions into public universities:https://www.denverpost.com/2023/06/14/supreme-court-affirmative-action-race-conscious-admissions/

This month we invite you to reflect on these articles and think about what true equality and equity means in science. Can we envision what it would look like if we truly broke down barriers and worked on solutions to enhance equity to support the wellbeing and success of Black scientists and those from racially minoritized backgrounds? What does it look like when we build a rich and diverse scientific community so that we can take on the world's greatest scientific challenges? And if we can begin see this, what then are the next steps each of us can take to get closer to this goal of realizing the scientific community’s true and full potential?


Patty George, Matt Griffith, and PSCCM DEI Committee



June is Pride Month, a time when we honor the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual rights and celebrate LGBTQIA+ culture. For members of the community within our division, we honor and celebrate you!  Pride Month was officially recognized in June 1999, but has been celebrated and remembered in various ways since the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan on June 28th, 1969. The purpose of this commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQIA+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally, and to continue to push for LGBTQIA+ equality.
We know that members of the LGBTQIA+ community continue to experience harassment, discrimination, and exclusion. Legislative tracking by the ACLU shows a record 500+ anti-LGBTQIA+ bills were introduced in the US this year in 41 states. As of today, 77 of those bills limiting the human rights and healthcare access of LGBTQIA+ individuals, particularly transgender individuals, have passed. It is more important now than ever to continue our efforts surrounding inclusion and justice and to show up in solidarity for LGTBQIA+ individuals in our division, in the Denver community, and beyond.
National Jewish is hosting Medicine Grand Rounds on Friday, June 23 at noon and will feature Dr. Liz Kvach, Medical Director of Denver Health LGBTQ+ Health Services. She will be speaking on “Gender Affirming Care Considerations for Transgender and Nonbinary Adults”. Please consider attending in person or via Zoom. There will be lunch provided to all who attend in-person at Heitler Hall and a special gift! Register in advance for this meeting via the zoom link: https://njhealth-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYvdemorjktE9yVxYLrjKfiuZNT5sWAYIhu
If you don’t know much about Pride Month, it’s never too late to learn! To learn more about Pride Month as well as the etymology of the term, here are a few resources. Thank you to Geoff Connors and the Internal Medicine Residency Program for sharing links from their monthly newsletter!  No matter how you choose to celebrate PRIDE this year, remember those who fought for equal rights, and be one of those who still does.  Whether you identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community or are an ally, your voice and support are impactful to our friends, colleagues, patients, and loved ones.
Patty George, Matt Griffith, and PSCCM DEI Committee

Response to Supreme Court

Over the past few days the Supreme Court has made two decisions that directly affect our ability to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. 
The first decision (Students for Fair Admission v Harvard and Students for Fair Admission v University of North Carolina) framed raced-based evaluation of applicants or “affirmative action” as violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The majority justices felt that affirmative action, by improving the chances of acceptance for certain racial or ethnic groups, led to biases against racial groups that did not have access to this improved chance and therefore did not provide equal protection to all.  However, we on the DEI committee feel that the position taken by the majority justices could only be the case were the playing field actually level for all students, with some groups benefitting while others were harmed by this practice. We understand that affirmative action is a controversial practice, and some may not feel it is necessary or helpful. To shed some light on the effects of removing affirmative action we found ahelpful piece from NPR. The University of California system has demonstrated (see link) that eliminating affirmative action in 1996 led to lasting economic effects on minoritized populations without providing measurable improvements in opportunities experienced by other racial or ethnic groups.  Which is to say that these policies benefit historically marginalized groups, increasing their chances of attending competitive universities and entering into STEMM fields (like medicine) without harming other groups. This decision will affect our ability to diversify the pipeline of people entering our field. In so doing, reducing the diversity of the physicians and scientists will result in worsening healthcare inequities and increased mortality. We must advocate for the CU system to be innovative, in the face of these new restrictions, in developing and evaluating holistic review programs that evaluate the entire lived experience of applicants as encouraged in the court opinion. We have already started doing this with our pulmonary fellowship selection process. However, there is now an urgency to evaluatie these processes, learning from the UC system and other colleges which have experience with the new limitations, to ensure equity in evaluation of candidates and access to the finest STEMM education opportunities in the state for applicants from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.
The second case, decided yesterday (303 Creative LLC v Elenis) framed the refusal to create a wedding website for a gay couple as a First Amendment right. The owner of the web design company sued the state of Colorado because of a state law that requires state businesses serve everyone regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court felt that she was within her right to refuse services to gay couples. The majority brief attempted to limit the implications of this ruling to creations of media that could “speak” for the company creating them, side-stepping the potential reading of this law that all businesses could decline to serve a particular protected group(e.g. women, minoritized individuals, people with disabilities, etc…) if they wanted to.  However, we agree with the dissenting justices that the implications of allowing the refusal of service to anyone by a business in our own community (Colorado) are very worrying. Seemingly this decision sends the opposite message to that of the first decision. We are particularly saddened that this ruling came on the last day of Pride month and want everyone to know that we are always striving to create a community in PSCCM where all are welcome.
As the impact of this decision becomes clearer in the coming weeks and months, the DEI committee invites all members of our division to help us brainstorm ways in which we can increase our efforts to recruit a diverse group of students, trainees, staff, and faculty members to not only our division but to the entire medical community. Our primary mission is to provide the best care to all of our patients, and this is optimally achieved through a diverse and inclusive team.
For those who feel anxious, panicked, hurt, depressed, or just upset by these decisions, please feel free to reach out to any of us on the committee to chat, grab a coffee, commiserate, hug, etc… We are here for you.
PSCCM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee