Racism is a deep, systemic, and longstanding problem in America and we, as a public health community, must use every tool we have to confront it in all its forms. As we examine our efforts as individuals and as institutions to confront racism, one thing is clear: We must do more. There is a long history of violence against Black Americans in this country; the shooting of Jacob Blake is just the latest manifestation. We not only must condemn these acts of racism, we must take action that will, now and over time, reduce its pernicious effects on the lives, health, and well-being of Black Americans. Racism manifests itself in many ways in our nation. The history of anti-Black racism is both long and deeply destructive. From our vantage point in public health, the most obvious effect of systemic racism is the meaningfully worse health outcomes experienced by Black Americans in nearly every stage of life. As a School dedicated to improving the lives and health and well-being of people in our community and around the world, we must be part of the solution to end racism in America.
In response to feedback from our School’s community, we will take a series of actions in coordination with others at the University. The decision to concentrate on the initial actions outlined in this letter has been guided by two principles:
- We will focus on ways our School can address the systemic and structural factors within society that perpetuate racism and bias, with an initial focus on anti-Black racism and being inclusive of the intersecting identities that make up Blackness.
- We will prioritize School initiatives that complement Brown University’s actions to address racial injustice because we are stronger and more effective when we work together.
We have developed the following actions because they represent an important set of next steps. They are not the last steps that we will take but we believe that they move us in the right direction. We have aligned actions with the School of Public Health Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and build upon the foundational changes the School has made and reported on annually since the launch of its Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2017.
First and foremost, we must promote a diverse and inclusive School. This will not happen if we make incremental changes. It is time to be bold and aggressive. We propose a series of actions, outlined below. We will measure whether these actions are making a difference. And if they are not, we will modify our course and do better.