March 19, 2021
Dear School of Public Health Community,
I write to you at the close of a difficult week. The deadly assault in Atlanta on Tuesday, which claimed the lives of six women of Asian descent, and the public outcry over the response by police and other authorities, has drawn national attention to a tide of anti-Asian violence and racism in our country.
The United States has a long history of prejudice against those of us of Asian descent, and in the past year that prejudice has been fanned by irresponsible and cynical public statements concerning the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. The killings in Atlanta are part of a nationwide, ongoing pattern of racially-targeted acts against Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
I write to reaffirm our School’s deep commitment to human rights and anti-racism, and to offer my support to members of our community whose wellbeing, mental health, or safety has been threatened by this act of hatred, or by previous experiences of racism. As an Asian American, I have seen racism first hand in this pandemic and we in public health know that racism is a public health crisis with profound public health consequences. Violence and fear impair our ability to live healthy, safe, creative lives. Challenging racism and hate is a central part of our work here at the school.
President Paxson has shared her thoughts on these events, as well as Brown University resources and events, and I encourage you to take advantage of these and other supports.
I look forward to working with you to continue our work to challenge racism and address the impacts of prejudice in our country.
Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health