#blacklivesmatter at Hunter SPH
To: Dr. El-Mohandes, Dean of CUNY School of Public Health
We are writing to request a public response from you and the leadership of the CUNY School of Public Health to address the events of recent weeks regarding the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York City.
Ideally, the response should include the following:
--Condolences to the family, friends and communities of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
--Recognition of the failure of the justice system to hold the officers involved in Ferguson and New York City accountable for their acts of brutality, use of excessive force.
--Recognize the detrimental effects of police brutality on the health and well-being, particularly on communities of color, who already contend disproportionately with ill health and barriers to health care.
--Recognize that intersectionality of state violence, including police brutality, that also disproportionately targets women, LGBT, youth, migrant, homeless, and poor individuals whose mistrust of the system does not protect them from it.
--Recognize the trauma of injustice, and its effect on individuals, relationships, community cohesion, and our work/learning environments.
--Express solidarity with communities and allies of those impacted by police brutality who should not face recrimination for their non-violent direct action protests.
--Acknowledge the capacity of academic institutions to tackle systemic violence
--And with these recognitions express the role of public health and CUNY as agents with the power to shape the discourse and recourse necessary to mitigate, resist and undo social and systemic determinants of health including racism and violence by police.
We implore you to create spaces where we can have an open dialogue about the implications of state violence in our school community, our neighborhood of East Harlem and New York City. Moreover, we want you to lead the conversation on how we as an academic institution dedicated to urban health can be more actively involved in addressing issues of state violence.
Some examples of strategies to mitigate racism and oppression within our institution and communities most impacted by police violence may include but are not limited to:
Development of an anti-oppression curriculum crafted by students and faculty that provides theoretical frameworks and tools to address state violence at a community and institutional level.
Building the capacity of faculty and staff to directly intervene during incidents of implicit discrimination in the classroom as well as leading class discussions that stay away from othering and shaming marginalized communities.
Embarking on community-engaged and responsive research activities that examine the impact of police violence on the health of individuals and communities of NYC and beyond.
As a student collective we continue to engage in direct action, community dialogue, and attempts to bridge the movements around the country, in Mexico, and in the Middle East as one global struggle against state violence. We know many students, some whose names appear on this letter, share our sentiment and request your statement and support.
Attached is a copy of a call-to-action by the APHA in 1998 in response to police violence, unjust grand jury decisions, the cries of injustice by New Yorkers and Americans and their vision for a just and healthy society. Similar to how HIV/AIDS once burdened our city and the lack of systemic culpability and action resulted in more lives lost, Root Cause joins the many voices standing up for themselves and each other, calling for action from those who hold seats of power and privilege.
The lives of young people are being stolen and we can’t breathe if the meaning of each of their lives are lost as well. What is the meaning of our lives, as students and faculty of public health, if we continue to allow racism and state violence to be stronger than those fighting it?