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.
The racial discrimination and retribution that Dr. Christian Head has endured at the UCLA Medical Center is shameful, particularly given the fact that UCLA maintains an international reputation as one of the premier learning institutions worldwide. But more intolerable is the failure on the part of UCLA and the UCLA Medical Center to intervene and end the racial harassment and retaliation against Dr. Head.
Dr. Head’s treatment raises serious questions about the sincerity of UCLA’s commitment to racial equality and tolerance. University statistics and recent incidents of hate crimes only lend support to these questions.
By signing this petition, I am joining others in calling on UCLA to end the racial discrimination and deplorable mistreatment targeting Dr. Christian Head. These overt acts of intolerance have no place in a free society that recognizes the human dignity of all people, let alone a public institution of higher learning.
Chancellor Block, as the head of UCLA, I am calling on you to take the necessary actions to restore UCLA’s reputation as a renowned academic institution that embraces diversity, promotes equality and treats its diverse employees, faculty and students with the dignity they deserve. UCLA owes this to Dr. Head and to California’s residents, taxpayers and voters.