Solidarity in Action

Celebrating Women’s History Month - A Year Unlike Any Other


March 2021

Dear UCSF Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Community,

March is the month of the year when the United States highlights the valuable contributions and accomplishments of determined and persevering women. As we reflect on the past year with hindsight, which the cliché says is 20/20, I challenge us to look at the progress we have made during the struggle. We as women, the progressive people within the US, and those fortunate to be part of the Bay Area Culture, and moreover UCSF can be the continued change.

Fear struck us in March 2020. The pandemic forced us all - men, women, transgender, privileged, underprivileged, our nation - into containment and a way of life many were unaccustomed; limited, restricted, overwhelmed, and in a way, victimized. Forced to cover up who we are, required to shelter, hide away, extend ourselves, ruminate on our fears, sorrows, learn to survive, and eventually persevere. As women, many of these things were already familiar, except now, everyone was forced to feel it, live it.

We must pause, consider, and reflect on ourselves, just as the symbol of a woman represents. 

Our collective struggles in 2020 played a pivotal role and helped unearth deep-rooted systems our nation has capitalized on from the start. Walking a mile in someone else's shoes hit everyone in some form or fashion over the past year. Though some struggles were inclusive, others - depending on your situation - may have brought a re-emergence of Ruth Schwartz Cowan's 1983 book ‘More Work for Mother’.

  • Is it ironic that 4x as many women, as compared to their male colleagues, were forced to leave the workforce during the pandemic? (1)
  • On a national stage, we witnessed the mass exodus of women from the workplace that Covid caused, which brought uncharted territory for us well beyond ‘The Pregnancy Pause’ - how do we bounce back from this?
  • The Marshall Plan for Moms, calling for policies for equal pay, affordable childcare, and stipends for the “unseen” labor that tends to fall on women.
     

Many of us wore multiple hats since last March: provider, partner, mother, daughter, sister, caretaker, teacher, etc. Only with balance and creativity can one prioritize self-care, and we saw during this struggle many women’s health issues were exacerbated. The ramifications of COVID and the burdens associated with it created increased awareness to women’s physical, mental, emotional, and social health, including access to care, surge in gender-based violence, and the deep existing inequalities that disproportionately affect BIPOC women. The innovation of different service models, like telehealth, were implemented to reach more women and provide the care that would have been lost. We are called to continue creative thinking to enable inclusive and equitable care to further close the health disparities gap.

While many could think this past year was “The Year We Lost”, perhaps there is a new narrative we can share. As we begin to physically emerge from isolation, we are welcomed with what metamorphosis naturally brings after deep self-reflection: imagination, creativity, and much needed change. Women deliver new life into this world, and now, with a woman finally represented on the national stage, perhaps will breathe new life into this country. Through empathy, advocacy, and awareness brought forth by the pandemic, we have increased momentum in future financial, physical, mental, emotional, and societal health for women. It is now up to us to continue to solidify the closure of the gap we have been fighting for.

In solidarity,

Jennifer Kinder PT, MS, DPTSc, Associate Professor

* (1) (https://www.npr.org/2020/10/28/928253674/stuck-at-home-moms-the-pandemics-devastating-toll-on-women)


Juneteenth 2020

Dear UCSF Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Community,

Happy Juneteenth! On June 19th, 1865 a community of Americans received a message that “in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” In fact, they had been granted this freedom more than two and a half years prior. Because landowners did not want to lose free labor and because the new Executive Order was not enforced, Black Americans in Texas continued to be enslaved after the proclamation. With the end of the Civil War and the eventual arrival of the Union Troops in Galveston, we were finally all free.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the freedom of all Americans. Juneteenth, is a day to celebrate freedom, and themes include drawing together as families and communities, offering healing and support, learning and self-development, and to celebrate achievements.

In our Department, Juneteenth represents an opportunity to celebrate our collective commitment to developing anti-racist practices in physical therapy practice, education, and research. Solidarity in Action is the culmination of several ongoing projects in our department. We aim to better understand the experiences of our stakeholders; develop a sustainable strategy for ongoing development toward anti-racist practices; and support healing and learning. In celebration of Juneteenth, we are proud to launch our Solidarity in Action platform!

Today, we launch our UCSF DPTRS Solidarity in Action Employee Climate Survey. We recognize that our department climate is guided by the attitudes, behaviors, and standards of our team. Including the inclusion of, and level of respect for, individual and group needs, abilities, and potential, across the spectrum of backgrounds, identities, and life experiences. We invite all department employees to provide feedback about their experiences in the department to help develop more equitable systems and practices. By taking a community-informed approach, we hope to also foster a welcoming climate for each and every stakeholder in our community.

Today, we offer the UCSF DPTRS Solidarity in Action Anti-Racism Self-Study Guide. This is an organic, crowd-sourced, document compiled by staff, students, and faculty of the Department. It is intended to serve as a place for community members to offer resources to guide anti-racism understanding and action, and to receive guidance for ongoing personal development. The process of crowd-sourcing represents a recommitment, both at the personal level and as a community, to our Department’s mission.

Today, we participate in the UCSF DPTRS Solidarity in Action UnHidden Curriculum. Students and instructors who are meeting remotely are invited to let their freedom flags fly by using the virtual background feature to share a flag that represents emancipation or freedom. Suggestions include the Pan-African flag, the new Pride flag, the flag of your Indigenous Nation or Tribe, or the American flag. Instructors are encouraged to highlight Black scholars, to discuss how systemic racism impacts their field of study, or to incorporate lessons on freedom or movement.

And finally today, we launch our UCSF DPTRS Solidarity in Action Website where you can access resources to better understand our department’s commitments and actions, find resources for your own learning in anti-racism, and find opportunities to connect with this community. Please share resources or tell us what discussion topics or continuing education workshops would be helpful for you and your team by contacting our Vice Chair of Equity, Kai Kennedy.

We hope that you’ll join in solidarity with us as we celebrate Juneteenth as a community – to begin to heal, to continue to learn, to stand together, and to continue our work until everyone is free.

 

Kai Kennedy, PT, DPT, Vice Chair of Equity

Amber Fitzsimmons, PT, MS, DPTSc, Chair