Dear School of Public Health Community Members,
By now you have read the University’s statement about confronting racial injustice. Our executive committee has also been deeply disturbed by the horrific violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. These deaths, disproportionately affecting Black communities, reflect unacceptable abuses of power and the toxic effects of structural racism. Along with the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on communities of color, the past months have laid bare widening fissures of inequality in society. Racism exacerbates existing and creates new public health problems. It will take our collective effort and innovation to combat the inequitable burden of morbidity and mortality of these challenges, with special commitment to addressing disparities among communities of color.
We must tackle these inequities. We must embrace prevention as the cornerstone of public health by building our capacity, and the capacity of those around us, to effectively engage in public health as a form of social justice. There are many ways of doing this. Some include working together to generate rigorous evidence that elucidates the deleterious impacts of social and structural determinants of health on communities of color. We can use this evidence to drive the development and implementation of innovative interventions that address underlying structures of power that drive health inequities. We can challenge racism by using our voices, including as appropriate, the use of our positions of privilege to amplify these issues in the field of public health, policy, and beyond.
To do so effectively, we have to take care of each other during this difficult time, and especially consciously and publicly support Black students, staff, and faculty. We see you, we care about you, and you matter. We must also examine our own role in consciously and unconsciously perpetuating structures of inequity by understanding and addressing our own biases. This includes considering how to engage in these conversations, and where the burden of work should fall as we take forward enhanced or new work to address these challenges so as not to exacerbate inequities further.
We call on our community of public health scholars, scientists, advocates, and practitioners to use their skills, voices, and places of privilege to challenge and combat these injustices. We welcome and seek your input on how to further enhance our scholarly and educational efforts to advance equity for all. We re-affirm our unwavering commitment to continue developing our educational, research, and service capacity to meet these challenges, and to reflect the core values of equity and inclusion which are central to our mission as a School.
Bess H. Marcus, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health
Nancy Barnett, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
Melissa A. Clark, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Christopher W. Kahler, Chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Caroline Kuo, Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
David Savitz, Interim Chair of the Department of Epidemiology
Karen Scanlan, Director of Communications and Outreach
Christopher Schmid, Chair of the Department of Biostatistics
Jennifer Tidey, Interim Associate Dean for Research
Patrick Vivier, Director of Interdisciplinary Educational Programs
Laurie Ward, Senior Director of Finance and Administration
Ira Wilson, Chair of the Department of Health Services, Policy & Practice