On May 25th of last year, we saw the killing of George Floyd, documented by video shared with the world. On April 20th of this year, we saw a Minnesota jury find former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder, recorded by the verdict broadcast around the world. We are witnessing a turning point for our country.
To say it’s been a difficult past 13 months feels like an understatement. As a nation, we have faced so many challenges, scarred by many breaking points. On top of the known challenge of living through a global pandemic, we are confronted with the challenge of addressing racial disparities in all the systems we interact with every day.
One of these systems is policing. Since George Floyd’s murder, more people in this country have been awakened to the alarming fact that communities of color are policed more aggressively and brutally. Unarmed Blacks are killed by police at a rate three times that of white people, according to a study by Yale and the University of Pennsylvania in which the researchers concluded that fatal police shootings are a public health emergency for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
Hearing about the multiple reports of Black adults and children being killed by the police is disturbing and traumatizing. And it is particularly traumatizing for the African American community. These trends in disparate policing are not new knowledge for the African American community or for others who know the history of policing in America and those who serve as police at the local level.
We understand that George Floyd’s death under police custody and the numerous other incidents of brutality towards people of color, either by police or citizens, take a toll on people, particularly among BIPOC. While it is difficult to directly influence these larger national events, we do have control in our immediate spheres of influence, and we must exercise this influence. Please consider actively participating in your spheres of influence to disrupt racism and bias.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of initiatives the School of Pharmacy is doing to address racial disparities in our systems, on our campus, and in the community:
- Inclusive Curriculum: Mapping and coordinating where diversity-related content is taught in the PharmD curriculum.
- Policing Accountability: Lisa Imhoff, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, is a member of the UW–Madison Police Department’s Police Advisory Council to help develop an Equity Dashboard that includes key data points that measure the department’s adherence to fair, impartial, and just policing practices and outcomes.
- Increasing Access: School of Pharmacy faculty, staff, and students, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and Fitchburg Family Pharmacy, are going into the community to help vaccinate underserved populations.
- Cultivating Competencies: In collaboration with the School of Nursing and Veterinary Medicine, we are hosting Learning Communities for individuals and groups to build capacity to engage in diversity, equity, and inclusion-related skills, attitudes, and behavior.
- Promoting Growth: Monthly Diversity Dialogues, led by School of Pharmacy faculty, staff, and students on the topics of raising awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion broadly, with the next event scheduled on April 21.
At all times, but particularly this week, our sincerest wish is that all people attend to their mental and physical wellbeing. Please take care of yourselves in the way you know best. If you’re comfortable, we encourage you to reach out to talk to those you trust and know care for you. Also, please know there is support available to you:
School of Pharmacy Processing Space on Friday, April 23 at 10 am
Lisa Imhoff will facilitate a processing space open to SoP faculty, staff, and students. Like the processing spaces being held by campus, this space is to talk through and process the news and media coverage of the race, police brutality, and particularly reactions to the verdict in the Chauvin trial, other current events, and how our lives might be affected by them. Register here.
UW Campus Processing Space for Students on Wednesday, April 21 at 4 pm
The UW–Madison student community is invited to come together on Zoom (pre-registration is required) in a facilitated space to process the trial of Derek Chauvin in the context of continuing racialized violence and a global pandemic. Register here.
UW Campus Discussion Circles for UW Faculty/Staff on April 28 at 9:30 am
Learning Communities for Institutional Change & Excellence (LCICE), in partnership with others, will hold dialogue circles. Two circles will be held, one for BIPOC people and one for white allies, during the same time period. Learn more.
There are additional resources available for the UW community:
- Dean of Students Office, 608-263-5700
- Employee Assistance Office, 608-263-2987
- Multicultural Student Center, 608-262-4503
- UHS Mental Health Services, 608-265-5600 (option 9)
As Chancellor Blank’s message stated, justice has been served, but there remains much work to be done. Please join us in the call to action to create a better world together.
Steven M. Swanson, PhD Lisa Imhoff, MSSW, LCSW she|her|hers
Dean and Professor Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion
UW–Madison School of Pharmacy UW–Madison School of Pharmacy