June, 2020

Dear community and academic partners:

Recent events – from our nation’s haphazard response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected minorities and under-represented persons, to the horrific murders of unarmed black people in Minneapolis, Louisville, Dallas, Brunswick, Georgia and countless other places – are grim reminders of the inequities and injustices of the society in which we live. Slavery may have ended over 150 years ago, but racial/ethnic disparities and discrimination are alive and well. And yet racism and discrimination are more than social injustice and economic disparities issues, they are a population health issue, affecting how people of color live and die.

The ReACH Center’s vision is to advance population health through community partnership and research. Our values include diversity and inclusion, respect, equity, and collaboration. When we see those values ignored or steamrolled, rather than stand by in silent acquiescence, we stand with oppressed under-represented persons in our city, region, state, and country. To echo the words of Chiquita Collins, PhD, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Long School of Medicine, and UTHSCSA President Bill Henrich, MD, ReACH stands against racism, injustice, violence, discrimination, and xenophobia. We stand against the oppression endured for hundreds of years by indigenous people and communities of color. We stand against the horrific murders of unarmed black people by those in power. We stand with our communities of color, with marginalized people, and with racial, ethnic, sexual and gender minorities. We stand for freedom, justice and equity.

Still another core ReACH value is lifelong learning. ReACH has a commitment to addressing health disparities and inequities and, in this moment, we recognize the importance of continuing to listen and learn from our community. Through our research we have the responsibility to address the damaging impact of social determinants of health and structural inequalities and educate the workforce of the future in these constructs. We recognize that racial/ethnic disparities permeate all sectors of our society and that academia is not immune. ReACH will not just stand against racism with words but follow our words with concrete action, through a commitment to tangible policies that address racial/ethnic disparities experienced by the faculty, staff, students, trainees, and the community with whom we work.

The ReACH Center is committed to promoting social and racial justice through training, research and education. We must teach every day, and we must learn every day, with our community. And we must both speak up and act.