Here at BSMS, we condemn the violence and terror of racism, particularly within governments and law enforcement bodies tasked with protecting people. We note the particular harms racism causes to the health of people of colour.
We are in the middle of a pandemic that disproportionately affects and kills people of colour, due to a range of factors relating to the physical health effects of the stress caused by racism, the poverty and disenfranchisement of people of colour, the institutional racism of the medical profession, and the over-representation of people of colour in high-risk, under-valued professions. It isin this context—a deadly pandemic that affects Black people disproportionately—that protesters have been obliged to take to the streets to seek justice and insist upon their rightto not be killed.
The deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and George Floyd in the US, and Mark Duggan, Rashan Charles, Sean Rigg, Sarah Reed, Faruk Ali and Anthony Grainger in the UK, as well as so many others, are only the most recent examples of the racism that has for so long characterised the societies we live in and the institutions we interact with. Racism is a system, and it takes a critical mass of people to bring it to an end. Every one of us must play our part, and those of us with a larger share of resources and wider platforms must take greater responsibility for bringing about change. We have a duty as a medical school to continually speak out. Everyone deserves good health, and racism stands in the way of that.
As with all other higher education institutions in the UK, BSMS, a partnership between the Universities of Brighton and Sussex, must also address racism within the sector, the medical profession, and within its own walls. We have further work to do to ensure that our staff, students, and curriculum reflect the values that will move us towards justice. Staff and students are critical in helping us all to learn about our shortcomings and these conversations inform our ambitions for the future and feed our commitment to dedicating resources towards making changes. Recent events are a stark reminder that we can lose no more time in producing the cultural shift we would like to see reflected in the wider society within which we work. Yet we take tremendous faith from the fact that we are not starting from zero; many of our students and staff work tirelessly on anti-racist projects already, and we look forward to continuing to build on their hard work.
We recognise that this is a time of trauma and distress for our community, and that some staff and students will be particularly strongly affected. This is a reminder that support is available, and we encourage you to contact student support or the inclusivity committee.
We stand in solidarity with those now struggling for justice. We affirm that Black lives matter.
Brighton and Sussex Medical School.