In early 2021, the Executive Faculty of Washington University School of Medicine approved a “WUSM Leadership Commitment to Anti-Racism,” naming racism as a public health crisis and committing to address racism within our institution, policies, and educational frameworks.
The commitment includes a campuswide anti-racism curriculum aimed at building the capacity of our community to do the work of anti-racism as individuals and as an institution.
Commitment to Anti-Racism
From Washington University School of Medicine Leadership
Discussions about racism, health disparities, and the role of medical, professional, biomedical, and basic science education in eliminating those disparities are prevalent and pressing. At Washington University School of Medicine, we want to be clear that we are actively working to address these systemic challenges and we are fundamentally shifting our educational programming and enhancing our professional development to support the change we want to see in our community and the world.
We firmly believe that “race,” as a social identity, is a social construct. While genetic ancestry and epigenetics have relevance to precision medicine, genetics and genomics, and other bioscience fields, the misuse of race in medicine, bioscience research, and society has contributed to profound disparities in health, wealth, education, and opportunity. Similarly, medical and bioscience research has incorrectly conflated social identity categories as predictors of health outcomes, leading to miseducation and perpetuation of harm in the fields of healthcare and bioscience research.
Racism, a social sickness disproportionately affecting communities of color, is a public health crisis. We are accountable for healing and repairing its harm, and can do so by working diligently and intentionally to achieve health equity.
There are current structures, practices, and policies within our own healthcare, research, and education systems and institution that are directly in conflict with our ability to achieve health, educational, and social equity. It is our duty to identify and rectify these systemic inequities. We commit to a culture of trying because change is hard and conflicts will arise.
Our commitment is to continuous learning and remaining open to the changes that are needed to achieve health and educational equity. We commit to support each other in the pursuit of these goals for the betterment of the community.
With this commitment to anti-racism, the Executive Faculty have also:
- Engaged in an “Introduction to Systemic Racism” workshop led by Crossroads, an independent organization that provides anti-racism organizing and training.
- Committed to meaningful and sustained culture change at the School of Medicine, starting with:
- A campuswide rollout of the Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum. This professional development program will be universal with language and concepts on systemic racism and equity issues with skills tailored to role and responsibilities.
- The creation of an Equity Champions program creating intentional partnerships between the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and each department/division on campus with department-supported positions for staff and faculty to help facilitate the implementation of the Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum.
Articles and books on anti-racism
Whether you’re just beginning or looking to expand your anti-racism journey, our collection of resources can help you actively identify and oppose racism and advocate for racial equity.