Life University (Life U) held its 4th Annual Black Alumni Reception on October 1, 2022 as part of Life Vision Extravaganza. The beautiful event featured a variety of distinguished speakers expounding on the evening’s major theme, Sankofa.
“The ‘Sankofa’ is a metaphorical symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana, generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress,” summarizes Sankofa.org on a definition of the concept.
In general, this inspiring way of life is characterized by acknowledging and incorporating vital knowledge and wisdom from the past while also keeping an eye toward a bright future. It is a message that resonates with chiropractors in the Black community, as they have had to navigate historic and systemic racial tensions from personal perspectives as well as professional ones. It’s common knowledge that the first chiropractic adjustment on record was given by D.D. Palmer to a black man named Harvey Lillard in 1895, yet less than two decades later, Black students were forbidden from studying at the Palmer School of Chiropractic and experienced other significant barriers to entry into the chiropractic profession. Though schools are now integrated and efforts have been made to level the playing field of chiropractic education, Black chiropractors make up only roughly 2.3% of the industry population as stated by Chiropractic Economic’s article “Black chiropractors, international association cites 92% whites in calling for diversity.”
This is a statistic that needs to grow to more closely match and serve a U.S. population of about 14 percent, according to the 2018 census. Though the race of the chiropractor should be of little consequence in the doctor-patient relationship, the keynote speaker at the event emphasized how a great deal of trust is involved in a chiropractic adjustment, and many people that have faced discriminatory mistreatment are not necessarily going to be comfortable with a chiropractor of a different race. This may contribute to the fact that Black individuals do not usually seek out chiropractic care nearly as much as their white counterparts.
The keynote speaker of this year’s Black Alumni Reception was none other than Dr. Brandi Childress, President of the American Black Chiropractic Association. She presented a rousing speech on why we need more Black chiropractors and how institutions such as Life U can better serve Black chiropractic students and alumni.
“If we reach back and grab our students, they won’t be left behind. If we reach out to our patients, they won’t be left behind, and we can save a life. Everyone with a spine needs a chiropractor, and I can guarantee you that not everyone with a spine has a chiropractor,” said Dr. Childress.
Dr. Childress suggested that practicing chiropractors can make a major difference in future success of students by participating in formal and informal mentoring activities, offering resources and/or inviting students to shadow in the office or taking on a PEAK student intern.
Dr. Deborah Little, Life U Alumna, had the honor of introducing Dr. Childress, as well as presenting the awards along with Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Accreditation Dr. Tim Gross. Her words were powerful battle cries to encourage those in the Black chiropractic community and serving as allies to be proud and unapologetic about their earned places within the larger chiropractic profession.
“Rebuke the need to shrink ourselves and apologize for demanding representation, for creating safe spaces and taking up space. Know that we didn’t choose Chiropractic; we were called to Chiropractic. The ancestral [remnants] called to us to fetch that was at risk of being left behind,” said Dr. Little.
Life University thanks all the talented people that attended the 4th Annual Black Alumni Reception and looks forward to holding similar events in the future. In particular, the University recognizes the speakers, organizers and sponsoring organizations that made the event possible. President Dr. Rob Scott summed up Life U’s commitment to diversity and inclusion rather well in his opening remarks, a sentiment that continues to echo in how Life U seeks to work as a positive agent of change.
“I’m not doing this because it is the politically correct thing to do. I am doing this because it is the right thing to do,” said Dr. Rob Scott.
Slice of LIFE is an invitation to and extension of everything happening at Life U. Whether you are a current student, a potential freshman or a proud alumni, Slice of LIFE can help keep you connected to your academic community. Know of a compelling Life U story to be shared, such as a riveting project, innovative group or something similar? Let us know by emailing Marketing@life.edu. For more information about Life U’s Doctor of Chiropractic program, visit life.edu/academic-pages/chiropractic-program/doctor-of-chiropractic/