Statement on systemic racism and injustice

Published: June 4th, 2020

Category: Featured

Dear friends,

We are dismayed and distraught by the recent events which reflect the systemic racism and injustice that are prevalent in our society, especially towards our Black communities.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to show the widespread impacts of systemic racism, from disparities in healthcare outcomes, to over-representation of people of color among the caregivers and essential workers that are most at-risk for contracting the virus. The trauma of systemic racism is directly linked to detrimental effects on physical and mental health in underserved groups.

Racism and police brutality have manifested in the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among countless others; and in the violent reprisals by police forces against the protests of these killings and media coverage thereof.

We echo the words of UF President Fuchs in condemning these acts of violence, and the racism and hate that are deeply intertwined with them. We recognize that civil disobedience can be a recourse when other avenues to justice have been denied:

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed during the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who was widely criticized by the media in his time, and a target of harassment by the FBI.
  • Celebration of Pride Month is incomplete without acknowledging the role of the Stonewall riots and POC leaders, such as Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, in advancing justice for the LGBTQ+ communities.
  • HIV/AIDS treatments reached patients faster due to successful protests and actions by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), including their “Storm the NIH” action in 1990.

We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We also support all individuals, agencies, and organizations that work to dismantle systemic racism and oppression, including positive reforms in the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.

As health sciences librarians and educators, our mission is to improve health by empowering individuals to critically assess evidence and broadening access to information. We are committed to promoting equity, diversity, and justice in healthcare and our communities. As part of these efforts, we endeavor to provide welcoming, inclusive services, spaces, and events for UF students, staff, faculty, and our local community.

Much work remains. As a first step in improving justice and equity in our workplace and community, we are sharing a list of resources for mental health, local organizations to support, and educational material. In addition, we will continue our work in the areas of minority health and the impacts of discrimination on health, through expanding our collections, supporting research, and advancing practice at the University of Florida.

Although the struggle for justice may seem impossible and our actions imperfect, we remain resolute in trying, learning, and trying again. Indeed, we can do no less.

In love and solidarity,

Health Science Center Libraries
George A. Smathers Libraries
University of Florida

Additional resources:

(mental health) UF counseling – https://counseling.ufl.edu/response-floyd/
(local organization) NAACP, Alachua County Branch – https://www.facebook.com/alachuanaacp/
(educational material) Antiracist Reading List, by Ibram Kendi – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/books/review/antiracist-reading-list-ibram-x-kendi.html

A longer list of resources is available at https://guides.uflib.ufl.edu/HSCLDiversity/antiracismresources