From the chair, on civic unrest: 'These issues are our issues'

Dear Colleagues,

The past week has been a very difficult one for our community and our nation. For myself personally, my days have been filled with rage, fear, sadness, exhaustion, frustration, resolve, and many other thoughts and emotions. I have struggled to find the exact words to communicate to all of you and have appreciated the clear words of our leaders UC president Janet Napolitano and UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood that our institution stands against racism and police brutality and with peaceful protest.
 
I would urge you all to consider three things:

  1.  As public health scientists and practitioners, these issues are our issues. Black men in the US have a 1 in 1000 lifetime risk of being killed by police. For young adult black men, police violence is a leading cause of death. Police violence is a public health issue. Systemic racism and structural inequality are public health issues. Many in the department are engaged in the scholarship that continues to point to these larger issues that must be addressed in order to improve health and achieve health equity. As scholars, teachers, and practitioners of public health, we must educate ourselves, understand, and speak out about these issues. As an institution we must continue to take concrete actions to ensure that we prioritize equity as well as health.
  1. These issues are personal to many of us and we all need space to respond in our own ways. All of us are processing the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath in our own way. The events hit especially hard for our black staff, faculty, and students. As a community, we need to give one another space to react to these events in ways that will likely be different for each individual, without judgment. Please make room for students and coworkers to have potentially powerful feelings. We have supported each other throughout this pandemic and during this time we will need to do this even more. If you are struggling, please do take advantage of your benefits package to take time off for self-care and/or to talk to someone.
  1. Stay informed and connected. The campus community has come together in support in many outstanding ways. The student Interprofessional Diversity and Equity Alliance will have a lunchtime meeting today, June 3. The Multicultural Resource Center will be hosting several UCSF-wide restorative justice circles for black people who have been impacted by police violence. On Sunday, June 7 at 4 pm, Dr. Edward Miller is hosting a conversation on racism and police brutality open to all. 

I am tremendously grateful for our department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The work they have been doing over the past months readied them to provide a fantastic list (sent under separate cover) of resources to help us respond with insight and empathy to the current situation as teachers, coworkers and researchers. They will share more about their work in our department meeting Friday and in their workshop on Monday.
 
Yours sincerely,
Kirsten