By Vignetta Charles, PhD | May 4, 2022
Chief Executive Officer, ETR
It’s May the Fourth again when Star Wars fans like me celebrate the franchise. This feels like a terrible time to celebrate when there are ongoing active threats to health care and human rights. And still, if we don’t pause to think strategically, we may well repeat mistakes and challenges of the past. On this day, I will still take the opportunity to think about how this prolific franchise causes me to reflect on life and leadership. This reflection is not intended to dismiss my grief and anger, but because it will help fuel my fire to continue on in this fight for health equity. Fueling me today is the newest installment in the Star Wars franchise, The Book of Boba Fett, and how it has helped me think about our past and progress toward the future.
The Book of Boba Fett received mixed reviews from Star Wars fans, but I enjoyed it. The series is a spin-off intended to provide a back story on a beloved character, Boba Fett, to share how he came to be who he is and then connect it to the present day. It includes diverse characters, some great action sequences, and spoiler alert—there’s even a cross-over with fan-favorite series, The Mandalorian, reflecting the intersections of Star Wars stories.
Despite the mixed reviews, The Book of Boba Fett resonated with what we’re experiencing at ETR. We have a complicated history, as does the character Boba Fett. And that has informed who we are today. ETR has experienced so many amazing triumphs mixed with intense challenges over the past two years of the global pandemic, racial reckoning, and intense self-reflection on whom we are and working toward whom we want to be. The Book of Boba Fett also had fans reflecting on how our past informs the present and shapes the future; ETR is doing the same. Our Chief People and Culture Officer has been encouraging us to embrace the spirit of Sankofa—a Ghanian term with many interpretations. We welcome the energy that we must look back to the past to understand how we became what we are and learn from that to move forward to a better future.
What have we learned from the recent past that informs our present and shapes our future? Every day has seemed to bring a new challenge to our mission-driven work—whether it be attacks on science, reproductive autonomy, LGBTQ+ rights, and the systematic exclusion of communities from opportunities. How we move forward will depend heavily on whether we learn from the past. Attacks on rights result in deepening inequities. We know this, and as a society have experienced this many times. Will we learn this time? Will we rise up into our power to make change for good? We are trying here at ETR.
Like the reviews of The Book of Boba Fett, we are getting some things right, and some things still need improvement. But we are learning from those experiences, leaning into our values, and changing along the way.
May the Fourth Be With You!
Vignetta Charles (she/her/hers) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at ETR. Among many other things, she is a Star Wars fan. Whether it be embracing uncommon allies, celebrating the power of youth, finding strength in the struggle of physical distancing, reflecting on the evolution of our understanding of diversity and inclusion, or learning from mistakes to make positive progress forward, Vignetta believes there’s always something to learn from Star Wars. She can be reached at email@example.com.