Opinion: The power of inclusion: Overturning the ‘white wall’ standard

Navigating the corridors with white walls during training left me with feelings of discomfort, discouragement, and exclusion. Diversifying portraiture at the NIH made staff "feel seen."

Have you ever walked down a long hallway in a building and noticed the uniformity of portraits? It is all too common to see older white men lining each and every wall. Their faces prestigiously positioned, glancing down with expressions connoting, “we have completed great work,” “we should be recognized,” “please take notice.”

These portraits acknowledge institutional founders, leaders, and/or influential stakeholders, yet the homogeneity of their skin tone, dress, and demeanor evoke feelings of alienation and attitudes of resignation, especially from onlookers who do not identify with them.

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