UCSF responds to images of watermelon on employee bulletin board in June

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A UCSF staff member says she is disappointed and hurt by the hospital’s initial response to her concerns about discriminatory images in the hospital.

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Bernadette Price says she has worked there for over ten years.

“UCSF has been part of my family for 17 years,” she said.

Price, who works in the operating room at UCSF Parnassus, says she was disappointed when she recently saw a dry-erase board on her desktop listing the important days of June but skipping June. There were also pictures of watermelons on the board.

“I felt like they were trying to erase it and they were trying to make fun of it by having watermelons in there,” Price said.

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“Watermelon and chicken were associated with blacks and slaves and things like that, so even the fact that they were there in this particular month just didn’t suit me,” Price said.

She says the person who drew the images was on vacation so she went to the person’s manager who said they would be removed.

“Even if you didn’t know about the damage or how painful it was, when we brought it to your attention by removing it, I respected it,” Price said.

But after the June holidays, Price said the board was restored, this time with images of cantaloupe, watermelons and honeydew on the list of holidays, as well as the words: “Seasonal summer melons only.”

“When I saw this, I stopped and just started shaking, I started shaking,” Price said.

“I was in pain,” Price said.

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“The watermelon and chicken thing has always been a black thing, I don’t know who doesn’t know that, but when it’s brought to your attention and you’re aware of it, what’s the excuse now,” Price continued.

In a statement emailed to ABC7 News, UCSF Senior Vice President and COO Sheila Antrum writes:

“We looked into the matter and found out that the whiteboard has been erased. Hall staff represent many different cultures, ethnicities and walks of life, and they use the board to share celebrations and announcements each month. After talking to the employees who were involved, we determined that we had no negative intent, but we understand that one of our employees found a piece of holiday illustration for the month of June. We are sorry that the illustration on the board caused concern to our valuable employee. Because maintaining a work environment in which all of our employees feel comfortable is very important, the employees have conscientiously sought to replace the whiteboard. After learning that the changes did not address the employee’s problem, our local manager decided to remove the board. Promoting a dialogue about race and racism requires sensitivity and openness to open up new and multiple points of view. As a learning organization, we celebrate diversity, work to promote equity and promote inclusion. When we don’t do it right, even with the best of intentions, we work quickly to fix problems to create a positive environment for all of our employees.”

Price told ABC7 News: “I understand that some people may not understand where I’m from, but I think it’s because they’ve never experienced some of the issues that I’ve had to deal with. I hope we can all learn from this. experience and make things better. It’s the best I can say.”

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