​​June 5, 2020

Dear DBBS Community Members,

We write you today in solidarity with the many emotions you may be feeling at this time—outrage, fear, anger, sorrow, grief—given the current state of affairs in our country and world. We have to stand together with the victims of murder, marginalization, anti-Blackness, and oppression because of their skin color- especially those in the Black community- and with those who seek justice through protests across our country. We are so proud of all the protesters taking to the streets in George Floyd's name and against police brutality all over the country. This movement is so brave, risking infection and injury so that this story and others are told and justice is demanded. In order to sustain changes, we all, especially white folks, need to be committed to adopting anti-racist ideologies and practices. We believe it is the responsibility of those with privilege to commit to and do this work to make changes in our current system.

This month alone we saw in six parts of America, six different scenes of racism played out in front of all of us.  George Floyd, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade- it is important to say their names and recognize their humanity and personhood. Alarmingly, these are just instances that received national attention or had video footage. Although the national dialogue has increased over the past few years due high-profile cases of police brutality and murder in the media, little to no change has been actualized to address racist policy or social norms. In June, we nationally observe LGBTQ+ Pride Month. In this moment, it important to remember that the first LGBTQ+ Pride, at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, was a riot led by trans women of color against police violence. State-sanctioned violence and police brutality are issues that affect many communities. Liberation for one marginalized group cannot happen in isolation, we rely on community.

We recognize that in order for students to be allowed to bring their full, authentic selves to their labs and programs, we need to be aware of the social conditions outside of DBBS. We are here for you as students, scientists, and people. We have kept returning to Audre Lorde's quote, "Without community, there is no liberation." We hope to continue to build a DBBS community that seeks to empower and recognize all identities and experiences. As part of this effort, we are building and continuing to:

  1. collect and curate resources for DBBS community members to engage with. We hope these resources will encourage growth, connection, and meaningful change. We have provided a list of events and resources at the bottom of this page;
  2. develop and launch two newly created mini-courses/online journal clubs on Resiliency & Racial Injustice and Inequity. These mini-courses/journal clubs will not be for credit, but will have registration start and end dates. In the next two weeks, we will be releasing registration for our Resiliency journal club. Please refer to our webpage or sign-up emails from your program coordinator;
  3. follow through and implement the AAMC’s restorative justice pilot program in which DBBS and MSTP students will be participating in next year. The SOM Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, jointly with the DBBS Office, submitted a proposal for the request for applications for the Restorative Justice in Academic Medicine (RJAM) program in mid-April. This program, selecting five pilot institutions, is a supplemental/alternative process for academic health centers to build community and address mistreatment and misconduct. In late May, we received notice that WUSM has been selected as a pilot institution. All DBBS and MTP students will participate in this program in fall of 2021;
  4. & assess and address climate and climate-related issues within DBBS. In 2017, DBBS began systematically collecting information on climate and culture in our programs and division. We have done this through our 2017 Climate Survey, subsequent focus groups, and other surveys and assessments. We had been working on releasing a plan addressing our climate this spring. We know that addressing bias needs to begin with our students and community. However, we feel strongly that without collecting data on the COVID-19 pandemic and experiences during this time of unrest that our plan would not adequately address the various needs of our student body. Hence, we need to gather feedback in various forms (e.g. listening sessions/focus groups, surveys, etc.) from our community members so this plan is thoughtful and informed by all of our community’s needs. We plan on releasing this full plan to you in the fall of 2020. This strategic plan will include action items, assessment metrics, and targets for addressing our climate, culture, and training in regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We recognize that many of us are feeling deeply affected by the racial injustices present in our society, which have continued to persist systemically for generations. We feel, as DBBS leaders, it is important that we show-up for the community and provide support, tangible resources, and reinforce our commitment to this movement. We want to assure you that DBBS staff is here for you.

If you would like to arrange a time to chat about current events, how we can best support you and your fellow students, build our community, or simply touch-base, please let us know. We understand that focusing on your science at this time may be difficult. Should you encounter any issues, we are here to support you.

“People over property.
People over product.
People over profit.” - Rachel Cargle
Black Lives Matter.

In Solidarity,
Robyn, Cami, Anna, Jessica, Andrew, Joel, and Rosie​ 

Educational, Community, and Support Resources 

We recognize there may be paralysis in not knowing what to do at this time. We want to highlight some recommendations and resources that you can use. While this is not an exhaustive list or checklist, this is a place to start:

As a note in a movement for justice and equity, we recognize this means there will be a diversity of tactics and we must support and center those most directly affected by these issues. Supporting and centering the movement can take many different shapes and forms- there is no one way to do this work given we all have differing limits, boundaries, and traumas we carry with us. This means we will intentionally take care to not put others in harm’s way with our actions, especially those who are most vulnerable. Similarly, we should work to support those in leadership who are affected by these issues. Those of us with privileges should shoulder risks and burdens when others cannot. Talk to people who are in the fight with you. The stronger our community is the more difficult it is to divide us.​

For All: 
Statements and Articles from WUSM Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
 
 “Speaking out against institutional racism” by Dean Perlmutter, Vice Chancellor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Wilson, and Associate Vice Chancellor Stanton:
https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/announcements/speaking-out-against-institutional-racism/ 

“A Message from Dr. Ross about George Floyd”: 

“Dealing with COVID-19 disparities and police brutality” by Dr. Will Ross and Dr. Fredrick Echols (STL American): 

Statements from WUSTL Center for Diversity and Inclusion: 
“We Must Say Their Names,” “A Letter for Sean and Ahmaud,” and “COVID-19 Open Letter”: 

Virtual Programming- The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is collaborating with campus partners to provide the following virtual programs. Registration information can be found here for CDI’s programming: 

If you would like to get involved with protest taking place in the St. Louis community, please refer to these resources:
 
Expect Us page: Expect Us is for organizers to connect with others and build bridges with the St. Louis community
Resist STL page: Resist STL utilizes their social media pages to aggregate resistance in St. Louis 


For Black folks in our community, we are working to do better and you deserve better. 
We’ve compiled some resources to support Black mental health at this time:

--“The Four Bodies: A Holistic Toolkit for Dealing with Racial Trauma” by Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu (NappyHeadClub): https://medium.com/nappy-head-club/the-four-bodies-a-holistic-toolkit-for-coping-with-racial-trauma-8d15aa55ae06
--8 Positive Coping Mechanisms for Anxiety” by Alethia Davis, M.S.ED., LMHC (@HateTheDot on Instagram): https://www.instagram.com/p/CAIq_7Zpg-j/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
--“BLK + IN GRAD SCHOOL” (podcast): https://www.blkingradschool.com/ 

Student mental health counseling may be accessed by calling 314-362-3523;  you can request and schedule appointments. If you already have an assigned mental health provider, you may contact them directly for their availability. After-hours Mental Health Services: please call the Student Assistance Program (SAP) –1-800-327-2255, Option #3. This service is available 24 hours/7days –everywhere in the US. 

White folks, Non-Black folks, and folks looking to engage with anti-racist materials- What you can do:

Educate yourself - Every hour you spend on your own reading anti-racist resources, practicing skills to speak up against racism and racist ideology, etc. is an hour Black folks can be resting, mourning, healing without praising you or educating you. It is not the responsibility of oppressed people to teach you about their oppression.
Anti-Racist Education Resources:
You may refer to resources provided by the School of Medicine’s Upper Leadership- Dean Perlmutter, Vice Chancellor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Wilson, and Associate Vice Chancellor Stanton:

Additionally, we recommend these resources:  
--75 things White [and Non-Black] People Can Do for Racial Justice” by Corinne Shutack (Medium):
--“Racial Justice Research Document” by Rachel Cargle: 
o
ld
ed Anti-Racist Resources to Support Growth:  
--Anti-Racism Resources for White People (books, articles, podcasts, etc.): 

Donate, Act, and speak up - Every action we take is another opportunity to show by example what allyship and being anti-racist can look like in action. You can do this by speaking out against racism or white supremist ideology, teaching your kids/family/friends, donating, being politically active, protesting, etc.

Speaking Up and Action Resources:  
--“Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives”:  
--Techniques to being an Upstander” by WUSM’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: 
--“Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies”
--“How to Respond to Microaggressions” by Hannah Yoon (NY Times): 

Organizations committed to this work:  
Arch City Defenders (STL): ArchCity Defenders (ACD) is a holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, especially in communities of color. ACD’s foundation of civil and criminal legal representation, social services, impact litigation, policy and media advocacy, and community collaboration achieves and inspires justice and equitable outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region and beyond: https://www.archcitydefenders.org/ 
S​TL Anti-Racism Organizing Collective (STL): STL-AROC works to become a force for mutual work among whites and non-Black folks doing anti-racist organizing in ongoing, multiracial, multinational movement-building: https://arc-stl.org/ 
National Bail Out Collective (National): The National Bail Out collective is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration: http://nationalbailout.org/about/ 
American Civil Liberties Union (National): The ACLU dares to create a more perfect union — beyond one person, party, or side. Our mission is to realize this promise of the United States Constitution for all and expand the reach of its guarantees: https://www.aclu.org/ 
Black Lives Matter (National): By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives: https://blacklivesmatter.com/ 
Black Trans Advocacy Coalition (National): Established in 2011, The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition (BTAC) is the only national organization led by Black Trans people to collectively address the inequities faced in the Black Transgender human experience: https://blacktrans.org/ 


This isn’t about your feelings - If you are tired of hearing about racism, police brutality, and protest, imagine how Black folks feel! While we understand there is shame and guilt, it is your responsibility to turn those feelings of shame and guilt into thoughtful actions. 

“Being an Ally to Oppressed Groups” by WUSTL’s DBBS Office: https://wustl.box.com/s/o5s9o9x60wk53qqfogftn27h7950mzcn​ 

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