Recent events: an appeal from the dean and vice dean [Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo and Vice Dean Sharon Youmans]
Dear School of Pharmacy Colleagues,
Reflecting upon the senseless deaths of Black Americans George Floyd on May 25 in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor on March 13 in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery on February 23 in Georgia, we feel compelled to reach out to you, our School community. These tragedies disturb us beyond comprehension. We grieve for these victims, and we grieve for their loved ones. We also grieve for the nation.
The protests now in full bloom across the country demonstrate the anger, fear, and frustration of continuing racial injustices. These events, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on life, death, and rampant unemployment have shaken the nation to the core.
The racism displayed against our communities of color has a long, painful history that continues with every passing day. While laws have established that segregation in education is a denial of equal access and quality of education, the results of these laws are, at best, mixed. Discriminatory housing practices, lack of affordable housing, and the rate of citizens living below the federal poverty income level have accelerated in recent years. Racial discrimination in health care endures. Health outcomes, ranging from infant mortality to life expectancy, favor Whites over Blacks and other racial groups.
The current COVID-19 epidemic reflects these disturbing trends. As examples, this month’s testing of residents in the San Francisco Mission District demonstrated that 95% of the COVID-19+ cases were among LatinX people opting to be tested. By and large, this population must work in the community to survive, unable, therefore, to shelter in place; the health impact of this fact is clear. Some of our own Asian PharmD students have been shunned on the streets and on city buses by non-Asians who ostensibly feared infection from what our President sadly labeled the “Chinese virus.”
San Francisco, UCSF, and our School of Pharmacy are not exempt from racism and the inequity and disparities that result; they are everywhere.
How can each of us challenge the status quo?
We can fully accept that each of us must be part of the solution—and act. We can no longer look the other way when racism stares us in the face. We can call out racism and other biases when we see them. We can let our voices be heard and be voices for the voiceless or for those who are afraid to speak. We can shed complacency and embrace anti-racist actions of all kinds. This is the only path to eliminating the gross inequities and disparities that exist in our communities.
As dean and vice dean, we will act to ensure that issues of race and inequity are discussed openly and honestly within our School community. As always, please reach out to either of us with any observations, questions, concerns, or suggestions. We encourage you to self-reflect on current events in the context of your individual circumstances.
Let us be respectful to another and listen to each other with curiosity and not judgement. Let us continue to live out our UCSF PRIDE values.
Remember that individually and collectively we can challenge and change the status quo.
Joe and Sharon
B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD
UCSF School of Pharmacy
Troy C. Daniels Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH
UCSF School of Pharmacy