UCR Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences Anti-Racism Solidarity Statement
October 16, 2020
Dr. Ibram X Kendi asserts in his best-seller How To Be An Antiracist, “The opposite of racist isn't 'not racist.' It is 'anti-racist.' What's the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist.”
As we fight two pandemics, coronavirus and racism, The University of California, Riverside’s Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience acknowledges that centuries of slavery and subsequent racial injustices faced daily by persons of color, and Black Americans in particular, are directly responsible for the multitude of inequities we see today. The data is replete with these inequities. For example, Blacks make up 13% of the population but 23% of covid-19 deaths1; The net worth of White Americans is 10x that of Black Americans2; Blacks have double the infant mortality rates of White babies, and over the years, shorter life expectancies than Whites3; of particular importance to our field of psychiatry, only 1 in 3 African Americans who need mental health care ever receive it4. Furthermore, we acknowledge the importance of intersectionality, recognizing that trans women of color make up four out of five anti-trans homicides5. The aforementioned health data is reinforced by systemic inequities in housing, voting, employment, education, criminal justice and of course police brutality.
We recognize there is a problem with the institutional policies and practices that reify the inequities long faced by people of color. Faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience recognize the problem lies not within communities of color, but rather within policy, namely health policy. For this reason, the faculty are committed to doing our part to affirm and fight towards equity for all.
Because representation matters, we are in support of legislation and societal change which will help lessen the effects of long held systemic racism on our educational and healthcare systems. We are committed to doing more, learning more and listening more to all voices but especially those voices that have been marginalized. We are committed to invoking a hands-on approach to dismantling the systemic and institutional policies that allow inequities and its insidious effects to persist in the Black and other marginalized communities. With this in mind, we are committed to developing anti-racist policies in the following areas:
- Asking our faculty to incorporate health disparities and their impacts on marginalized communities into lectures given to our learners.
- Further enhancing a climate of inclusion and equity and encouraging dialogue whenever this is not experienced especially by those historically who lack power within the institution.
- Evolving our Pathway programs to intentionally support children from marginalized groups so all children can see a pathway into medicine and the mental health field.
- Participate in an on-going broadcast series in partnership with UCR Ethnic Studies Department and the School of Medicine to inform on health disparities in our region.
- Studying the impact of individual racist acts, unconscious bias, bullying, microaggressions and systemic racism on our patients, learners, faculty, and the community as a whole.
- Using this data to meaningfully improve our approach to patient care and inclusive practices within our department.
- Being inclusive and intentional in offering scholarly activity and leadership opportunities to all, especially those who historically have been marginalized.
- Expanding opportunities to provide care to Black and other marginalized communities.
- Being open to understanding and mitigating our own biases and using this to intentionally assess how we care for and relate to Black patients and other marginalized groups.
- Strengthening our relationships in the community and seeking stakeholder input on all aspects of our teaching, research and clinical missions.
We ask that every member of our department no longer look away when racism is present, ask yourself what can you actively do to change racist policy. Challenge yourself and your co-workers by engaging in difficult conversations about race. Do the reading, the listening, the self-reflection regarding your own privilege and use this knowledge to actively, and on an ongoing basis, commit to becoming an anti-racist. Silence towards racism becomes lethal for our collective humanity. Let us speak up for our patients, students, trainees, colleagues and our institution so that we will forge a better existence for all.
- Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. Black-white disparities in health care.JAMA. 1990;263(17):2344-2346. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.034401700660384.
- Dalencour M, et al. “The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in the Depression Care of African Americans and Hispanics in Los Angeles.”Psychiatric Services. 2017. 68(4):368-374.
- Dismantling a Culture of Violence: Understanding Anti-Transgender Violence and Ending the Crisis.