It is shameful that a respected African American faculty surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center could be intentionally demeaned based on his race and that university officials could ignore blatant acts of racial discrimination. But that is what is happening at UCLA.
Imagine being graphically depicted as a gorilla in a slideshow photo. That alone is offensive. But the fact that the slide was publicly presented for laughs during an annual medical school sponsored event attended by more than 200 physicians, faculty, residents and guests is both shocking and indefensible.
Not only was Dr. Christian Head’s face superimposed onto the body of a gorilla standing on all-fours, but the photo also depicted him being sodomized by his Caucasian supervisor. This, unfortunately, was just one of a series of racially motivated incidents that Dr. Head has had to deal with over the past several years at UCLA. His complaints to administrative leaders at the Medical Center, the University and UC Regents have gone unanswered. In fact, his complaints have spurred additional acts of humiliation, attempts to push him out of academic medicine and retaliation.
The Los Angeles Wave and Los Angeles Times newspapers have written about the vindictive and racially motivated actions that UCLA Medical Center supervisors have taken against Dr. Head, the ONLY African American surgeon in the Head & Neck Department. In fact, Dr. Head is only 1 of 2 tenured African American teaching surgeons in the entire UCLA Medical School out of more than 200 faculty surgeons.
Rather than do the right thing to keep the work environment free from discrimination, UCLA has opted to ignore Dr. Head’s formal requests to stop the harassment and retaliation against him. Racial discrimination has no place in institutions of higher education or, for that matter, anywhere in our society.
Tell UCLA to stop the discrimination.