The SCWG has published a position statement regarding the current situation of police brutality, structural racism, and COVID-19. We also discuss several actions individuals can take at various levels of intervention.
Dear SCWG community,
While our spring term is over, our call to action is clearer than ever. Please find below our official statement on the recent events of racial violence and in support of Black Lives. We sincerely thank Cara, Felix, Jayinee, Ariana, Shirley, Lea, Deena, Sara, and Seth for their efforts in leading this statement:
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Community Members:
The members of the Structural Competency Working Group are outraged at the senseless killings of Black people at the hands of police. We mourn for the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and others whose names we have not yet learned. We condemn the ongoing police violence against people protesting police brutality and state-sanctioned violence. We join others around the world in imagining how movements towards solidarity will dismantle the structural racism that has plagued our country since its inception. In addition, each of us must become more aware of our own unconscious biases.
In 1968 the Kerner Commission Report on civil disobedience cited poverty and institutional racism as the primary drivers of urban violence. Fifty-two years later, the same can be said. Ongoing police violence occurs in the foreground of a pandemic that has unequally affected Black people as well as Latinx and Native American people throughout the United States. Regrettably, protests may lead to the further spread of COVID-19, likely worsened by police use of tear gas and other forms of force. The COVID-19 pandemic has made longstanding inequities in health and healthcare more visible. Health inequities–like police violence–are manifestations of structural racism and other forms of structural violence.
As health professionals, students and researchers, we call for the end of police brutality and health inequity. We invite you to join us in participating in this work at multiple levels.
Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Action
- Learn about histories of structural racism, resistance and resilience along with present social movements, including in healthcare.
- Take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test (IAT) and the Project Implicit Health Test.
- Learn about how voter suppression and racial gerrymandering have discouraged and disenfranchised voters across the nation. Join forces with Black-led movements that are working to restore the rights of voters in your community and across the country.
- Give money and time to support Black political candidates and other people of color in your community who will fight for antiracist policies.
Institutional and Community
- Train healthcare providers and students on how to identify and address structural racism.
- Incorporate social medicine and structural competency into healthcare education and abandon race-based medicine.
- Work within healthcare institutions and professional organizations to acknowledge their histories of racism and engage in anti-racist work.
- Actively recruit and retain practitioners from underrepresented communities to create a healthcare workforce that reflects the demographics of the US population.
- Advocate for policy accountability. Encourage reductions in funding for policing and increased government investment in healthcare, housing, jobs and education.
Policy and Research
- Support local and national efforts towards criminal justice reform and restorative justice.
- Advocate for healthcare as a human right that must be made free and accessible for all through Medicare for All or a similar approach.
- Conduct community-based participatory research on the effects of police violence and structural racism, and community-based approaches to safety and health
- Eliminate the gap in biomedical research funding for black scientists
Finally, we envision a radical transformation in values and restructuring of institutions to support an inclusive, interconnected consciousness based on love, justice, compassion, responsibility, shared power and a deep respect for all people, places, and things.
Members of the Structural Competency Working Group