Statement on Racism from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

The Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology denounces individual and systemic racism in all its forms. Racism is a public health problem. Racism occurs at many levels: structural, institutional, interpersonal, and internal. Racism has had a particularly negative and oftentimes deadly impact on African American/Black and Native/ Indigenous communities and people.

We are all witnesses to its effects, including losses of life due to police violence. And we are all participants in the institutional racism that drives persistent health and healthcare disparities. The disproportionate burden of the COVID-19 pandemic is a recent reminder of racism’s persistence.

It’s time for real change: We must act and advocate to eradicate racism and undo racism’s impact on people of color. This ought not and cannot fall solely on the shoulders of those targeted by racism.

The work starts with examining the ways in which we have failed to condemn racism in our own public health work. To that end, we are thinking critically about how to address racism as a public health issue.

Commitments: As individuals and a Department, we each reaffirm that reducing health disparities and underlying racism is of major importance to biostatistics and epidemiology, and to our mission to improve health.  In addition, we will:

  • Critically examine and change the ways in which we perpetuate racism through our research, curriculum, educational practices, and departmental policies.
  • Implement inclusive data collection and analytic methods (e.g., examine question framing around race and ethnicity, sampling methods, and community engagement) and prioritize health equity research)
  • Prioritize racial justice and equity in our curriculum and other educational offerings, ensuring that every student gains experience in defining, measuring, and demonstrating how race and racism are intertwined with health
  • Attend professional development events to educate ourselves about how systemic racism presents in the educational setting, identify and dismantle ways in which our current practices are problematic, and promote inclusive teaching and mentorship.
  • Improve recruitment, retention, and promotion of historically disadvantaged students, postdoctoral trainees, staff, and faculty.
  • Regularly assess and reassess these commitments.