In Community: A Message from SMPH Leadership

The following message was issued on August 26, 2020, by Robert N. Golden, MD, (Dean, School of Medicine and Public Health and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs), Tracy M. Downs, MD, (Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and co-interim Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer), Manuel Santiago, MS.Ed, (Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs and co-interim Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer) and
Danielle L. Yancey, MS, (Director, Native American Center for Health Professions and co-interim Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer).

Dear members of the SMPH community,

We woke up this week once again to violence and brutality toward a Black man, Mr. Jacob Blake, by police. This incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, marks yet another appalling event in our country — this one right here in our state. We are devastated, angry, and heartbroken for Mr. Blake and his family, and for all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color among the students, faculty, and staff in our own community who experience the traumas of racism. We remain steadfast in our efforts to combat racism in society, medicine, and our own institution.

It is sobering to know that this incident, as well as more recent deaths of protesters, occurred only a couple hour’s drive from Madison. But it is also reckless to think these forces — racism, bias, discrimination, even hatred — are not at work in our own community. All of Wisconsin, including Madison, is no stranger to racism and violence.

Racism is a public health crisis. We can and will continue our efforts to become an anti-racist institution, and we look forward to sharing more information about those efforts in the coming weeks and months. We push to think proactively rather than reactively, to listen as well as act.

The pain these events unleash in us is real and affects us differently as individuals and as those that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities. While it is not always possible to fully experience someone else’s anguish, it is our duty to support each other. We have many resources at your disposal.

If you witness or experience any racist behaviors, we strongly encourage you to report it to any of the following offices:

If you are struggling to process your emotions, experiencing anxiety, or feel the need to talk to someone, please consider using these resources:

Additional campus resources are available from the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement.

Words seem small in moments like this, and we realize that action, above all else, is loudest. Please know your school values you, that we are here to support you, and we are committed to our work in building an anti-racist SMPH.