On April 16, we heard the outgoing ACMG president use racially offensive language in a panel discussion of diversity in genomics. This comes at a time when racial and social injustices are at the forefront of our society’s consciousness and necessary changes long overdue seem within our grasp. Events such as this remind us that we still have far to go. In order to take another step closer towards the ideal of an equitable and inclusive world that celebrates its diversity and reaps all the rewards that can come with that, we in the genetics community believe that above all other fields, we should be the ones leading that change. After all, one of the great gifts that genomics has given the world is a better knowledge of the richness of human diversity. This knowledge demands equity and demands justice. It is from this place that the genetics community should lead in expressing our values and ideals, by continually speaking out against injustice on every level, and by educating others in our society what the science tells us.

We, as part of the genetics community were truly shocked to hear what the outgoing president of our premier professional society said. His words do NOT represent our community, our values, our ideals, or our beliefs, and certainly not the scientific knowledge our field contributes in moving our society forward in the journey towards a better world. We do not in any way condone such behavior from him, nor would we from any other colleagues in our community. We believe there should be accountability for this act and real, meaningful change in what the ACMG does to address issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Words are meaningless without action, and we call upon the ACMG to do more than just focus on how diversity of the membership can be increased, but what can we do to educate and inspire change more broadly. Until the public witnesses a College that is dedicated in every way to advocating for equity and improving health disparities, we are unlikely to achieve the diversity within our membership we desire.

We hope that the language used was not done in an intentionally derogatory way. However, it is incumbent upon leadership in the genetics community to demonstrate an understanding of how language can impact others and how important it is at this time to listen, to hear, and to see those whom such words can hurt. We also call upon the new leadership to leverage our collective knowledge, compassion, and dedication as genetics professionals to lead by example in addressing the racial and social issues at hand.
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