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Maia's 101-year young Grandma, Annie Hightower
equity
“This Time Is Different” – A Message of Hope for Meaningful Change
Chief Medical Informatics Officer Maia Hightower reflects on her grandmother’s experience and optimism to share a message of hope for meaningful change as we approach the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
G

eorge Floyd was murdered a year ago. Within hours of his death, his last words were heard around the world: "I can't breathe."  

That was a traumatic time for my family and many others. Across the globe, communities big and small unified in protest. Families like mine gathered around the dinner table and had tough conversations about race and the Black experience in America.  

I remember the conversation we had with my grandmother. It was a FaceTime call. She was dressed in her Sunday best: impeccable hairdo, make-up. She is a 100-year-old Black woman that looks amazing. There was no church because of COVID—but hardly an excuse not to look good on Sunday, she said.  

I really wanted to hear her perspective—100 years of perspective. But I didn’t know what to expect when we started talking about the protests. She had a radiant smile. She was almost gleeful. Giddy, even. "It's not just Black people marching,” she said. “Oh no, it's white people too. This time is different." 

My grandmother was born in 1920. She's seen a lot in the world. "This time is different," she said.  

"I have all the hope and confidence that together we'll continue this journey of creating the most equitable place to work, to learn, to innovate and to receive care together. "

I'm an IT person at heart. It's not typical for me to share like this. But over the last year I’ve shared more about my experiences. It has been one of the most unifying and gratifying things I've done professionally. It has also been terrifying. But that call left me with such hope and optimism.  

We have so much to be proud of; we have so much more work to do. We've done great work over the last year. The support and momentum for positive change is impactful. I have all the hope and confidence that together we'll continue this journey of creating the most equitable place to work, to learn, to innovate and to receive care together.  
 

This article was adapted from Dr. Hightower's presentation at the U of U Health Moving Forward Town Hall on May 14, 2021. U of U Health employees can access the video of her story and many others here on Pulse.

Contributor

Maia Hightower

Chief Medical Information Officer, University of Utah Health

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