June 2, 2020
Dear DrPH Community,
The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade are unspeakable tragedies each in their own right. Their deaths are also, as Dean Williams said to the HSPH community late last week, a “gut-wrenching consequence of what we in the public health community know all too well – and a reality that people of color confront every day: Racism is a public health crisis.”
Many across our DrPH cohorts dedicate their careers to addressing the United States’ long-standing and systemic patterns of racism. Many are also living with the personal experience of systemic racism, all while doing the public health work to address it. This burden is a heavy one. COVID-19 has brought into even more stark relief the impacts of racism on health. As the deaths of Floyd, Arbery, Taylor, and Dade further illustrate the entrenched institutionalization of violence against black bodies, we want to ensure that our full community is working to undo racism through our scholarship, leadership, and action.
We are reaching out to each of you as individuals and public health professionals to say that we are here for you. The DrPH program is here for you. We support you in both your personal journey during these times and in your professional journey. The program is committed to having the difficult conversations to improving our support for students of color and to enhancing our programming to prepare our students in the critical theories and anti-racist practices needed to lead health equity interventions.
We know you are a very interconnected group, and that likely, you have already reached out to listen and support each other in this work. If not, please make the time to connect. We know you are a very equity-minded group, and that likely, you have already examined your work to identify opportunities to address the public health crisis of racism further. If not, please make the time to review your work and even further build health equity.
Students who are experiencing distress and seeking support may contact Colleen Cronin in Student Affairs at 617-432-1542 or email@example.com, or Harvard University Counseling and Mental Health Services at 617-495-2042 (617-495-5711 after hours). Alumni who are experiencing distress and seeking support, we encourage you to be in touch with mental health providers and networks of support.
We plan to share more support resources and commit to collaborating with you in responding to systemic racism.
Aria, Fawn, Gary, Jocelyn, Kim, Nancy, Perry, Rick, and Susan