College of
Human
Medicine

Dean's Update | April 22, 2021

Friends,

The conviction of George Floyd’s murderer on all counts provides hope but not resolution or solution to racism in society…including racism in health and medicine. In the year since Mr. Floyd’s murder, I think many conversations in homes, workplaces, and the media have become more real and more focused on addressing the racism and inequity in our country. But the actions of this jury and these improved conversations do not address the persistent disparities in poverty, health, incarceration, and education that plague us. As an example, the current infective plague has long standing, continuing racial inequity in our community tied to social determinants of health.

I wrote last year about how Emmett Till’s murder was an organizing focus for Dr. King and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps this year can be just as focusing – there is much to do.

Police violence in our society is not equally distributed. Between 2013 and 2018, Black men were 2.5 times more likely than White men to be killed by police. Black women were 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than White women. While racist systems of policing matter greatly in these statistics, so too, do inequity in poverty, unemployment, education, and opportunity. These deaths are a public health and medical failure, and inequities in public health and medicine contribute to the social issues that increase exposures to police violence.

I am a general internist currently rounding on too many COVID-19 patients, and I am not an expert on solutions to racism and police violence. That said, I am also an interim dean who works with great DEI leadership and programming; a socially dedicated, hugely talented educational team; a Center for Bioethics and Social Justice; chairs and deans who deeply care about how we will make the world a better place for all; diverse and dedicated community partners; astonishing programs addressing core disparities in health; and quite possibly, the most service-oriented and wonderful students anywhere.

We have talent and motivation. We have a budget we can use to support research that addresses disparities, racism, violence, and inequity in health. We have an upcoming college strategic planning process, and we can set meaningful goals for programming to address social inequity. And, as a medical school, we can provide opportunity in education, hiring, and patient care. We will be useful, serve those in need, and make the world a more equitable and just place for us all.

Serving the people with you,

Aron

Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean