A Letter to the MSK Community

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Blue flag with Memorial Sloan Kettering logo

We are deeply saddened by the senseless and devastating acts of racism and discrimination occurring across the country. They have no place in our communities or workplaces. It rests in our hands to do what is right, to work together to fight injustice and to be part of the solution — as a community and as allies, friends and leaders.

Our dedication to delivering care and identifying treatments and cures for cancer is rooted in a mission around saving and extending lives. It would be a failure of commitment to that mission if we do not raise our voices in this most challenging time and acknowledge that people of color – not only in the United States, but in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – are fearful.

As health care professionals and medical researchers, we know firsthand of the disparities in access to care and public health for communities of color. These disparities are just a small piece of the systemic injustice that has plagued communities of color since the founding of this country.

Right now, African American men and women live an existence where routine activities like a jog in their neighborhood, bird watching in the park, or a Sunday drive through town could result in arrest, harm, and even death. At the same time, people in our Asian American and Latinx communities, as well as all people of color, have been increasingly targeted and harassed, because of who they are, and where they come from.

These are the fears and burdens our own MSK colleagues of color carry with them to work every day. It is critical that we all understand and acknowledge this. It is also critical that we call out racism and make it clear that bias and prejudice have no place at MSK. 

At this time, many of our friends, colleagues, patients, volunteers, and community members are experiencing trauma, pain, and concern for their safety and that of their families. Some parts of the city and our country may continue to see riots and outbreaks of violence – exacerbating the trauma and fear. It is more important than ever that we unite as an organization and take care of one another.

Most importantly, everyone at MSK must consider how they can support our colleagues personally and contribute more broadly to finally addressing racism, which has plagued this country for its entire existence.

Craig B. Thompson, MD
President and CEO

Kathryn Martin
Chief Operating Officer

Lisa DeAngelis, MD
Physician-in-Chief

Joan Massagué, PhD
Director, Sloan Kettering Institute