The University of Rochester Medical Center supports the declaration that racism is a public health crisis and commends the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group for putting our institution on the record.
As our providers have worked to treat the symptoms of health disparities in people of color, our institution has been far too silent in fighting root causes—inequalities in housing, education, employment, criminal justice, the physical environment, economic mobility, and access to care that collectively determine the health of a community. These inequalities reflect centuries of structural racism that have eroded health and well-being in communities of color.
The COVID-19 pandemic, in which black people have died at nearly double the rate of their share in the population, shines a harsh new light on these disparities. However, we recognize that the public health crisis will remain until the root cause of racism is eradicated.
While adding to outward calls against racism as a health crisis, we also recognize an imperative to look inward. Our medical center has not done enough to recruit leaders and faculty members of color, or to ensure that every person touched by our institution feels welcome, safe, and supported at all times. We must translate good intentions into measurable actions, now. This work requires us to define clear advancement paths for students, staff, and faculty members of color, and to support the success of their chosen career journeys.
As our medical center joins this declaration, we acknowledge past failures in our obligation to fight racism—as a public health advocate, an academic institution, and an employer. We can and will do better by working together with communities of color.