We in Public Health Education condemn racism and its rotten fruits further illustrated by the recent murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN, and the countless number of Black lives taken by police brutality, white supremacy, and bigotry, past and present: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Marcus Deon Smith, and the list goes on. These assaults on Black lives come as we face the inequitable burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and Brown communities, another example of the poison sprouted from systematic racism over centuries. We affirm social justice is a public health priority and that understanding and exposing the ways social structures impact health and well-being is a critical part of our field. Together as a department we will continue to adhere to the ethical and professional mandates of the Society for Public Health Education and of the American Public Health Association which recognize racism as a serious public health crisis. Racism causes harm across all levels of society from individual behaviors to oppressive and unjust systems. Racism is lethal for individuals, communities, and our nation as a whole.
We know that community action is powerful and that transformation is possible. We share our commitment to promote equity and dismantle racism, engage collaboratively and compassionately within and beyond our UNCG community, and work towards lasting and socially-just change. In order to dismantle racism, we must understand where it lies within structures and communities, which starts with a commitment to studying and strategizing towards racial equity. We stand in solidarity with our students, colleagues, community partners, and all who are affected because of the suffering caused by these preventable deaths.
We know actions must follow our words. The faculty and staff in Department of Public Health Education pledge the following:
- Hold open and honest conversations as a department about racism and how we can prevent and respond to injustices and how we can work towards equity in all that we do.
- Model principles that support, advocate and bolster actions leading to a socially just society.
- Work with our university and community partners to center and elevate the voices and leadership of Black and Brown people and raise our voices for collective understanding as we seek healing strategies for ourselves, our students, and our communities.
- Continue our engagement and support of Health and Human Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as we work towards a more inclusive, equitable, and racially responsive environment for our faculty, staff, and students.
- Increase our commitment to exploring the roots of racial inequity and ensure that a racial equity lens is explicitly embedded in our research, teaching and service. With this commitment we pledge:
- 100% of our faculty will participate in a Racial Equity Institute (REI) Groundwater Presentation to learn about the inequalities that exist across systems in the US,
- To secure funding for all PHE faculty and staff who want to attend REI trainings,
- To work to bring REI trainings to UNCG and make them available at low cost to members of our community,
- To work together to learn how to effectively communicate about racism with each other and our students.
- To convene and support webinars, conferences, and research and service projects that seek to dismantle racism and affirm social justice.
- Create measures for annual evaluation of the social justice and health equity contributions and culture of our department and our work in order to be accountable to each other, our students, our alumni, and our community partners.
— UNCG Department of Public Health Education