USA STATEMENT ON Police Brutality and Racism in America
Fellow Students of Albany Medical College,
Today, the Albany Medical College Underrepresented Student Alliance (USA), in solidarity with the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Latinx Medical Student Association (LMSA), Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP), First Generation Students in Medicine (1GMED), Medical Student Pride Alliance (MSPA), Muslim Student Association (MSA), and American Medical Womens Association (AMWA), come together to express our deepest grief. After months of enduring the impact of COVID-19 — which amounted to disproportionate mortality rates in the Black and Latinx communities, as well as blatant acts of discrimination towards the Asian-American community — it feels both somber and exhausting to write this letter regarding the perpetual devaluement of Black lives in America.
We stand together in support of and in solidarity with the Black community: our colleagues, peers, patients, and neighbors who are once again grieving the loss of life to racial injustice, police brutality, and systemic racism. As future physicians, we are continuously taught to spring into action when we hear someone gasping “I can’t breathe”. Yet, time and time again, that response is regarded as a privilege, rather than a right, to members of the Black community.
The time for silence has long passed. It is imperative that as a medical community, we acknowledge that the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tony McDade and countless others are not isolated events. They are inhumane acts of violence rooted in systemic racism and from a long history of reinforced inequity hailing from the depths of slavery. As a simple reminder, in this country currently, Confederate flags (a symbol of racism) are still flown high; the KKK still exists; stratification of disparities based on race are well documented in data; and prison systems are disproportionately populated with members of the Black community, because “innocent until proven guilty” is not a privilege awarded to all. There is no coincidence here.
Just as importantly, we must recognize and acknowledge that these people were doing things we should not have to think twice about - going for a run in our neighborhood; sleeping in our own bed; driving in our car. As future medical professionals, it is our duty to become informed and speak out against these injustices. Our peers, and indeed our future patients, are directly affected by the psychological, emotional, and physical trauma that is perpetuated by such events. If we do not start now, with actionable change, we will further add to the long history of distrust between the medical community and underrepresented communities.
As we move forward, we would like to acknowledge the difficulty that students may experience during this time in processing acts of white supremacy, unjust Black deaths, and implications to their safety and wellbeing. We see you. We hear you. We support you.
With all of this in mind and in collaboration with peers and community partners across the country, the Underrepresented Student Alliance asks you, the students of Albany Medical College (AMC), to join us in the following Calls to Action:
Listen Up = “Learn, read, ask questions, and discuss to step into the shoes of someone of a different background or demographic group.”
Show Up = “Attend, actively participate, and contribute to diversity programs and initiatives.”
Collaborate with existing student organizations, such as those in the Underrepresented Students Alliance, to support Black and other marginalized communities.
Attend events held by USA organizations to listen, learn and engage.
Reach out if you have questions about allyship. USA is all about all of us becoming better advocates and allies for one another, and we are happy to have more of our peers alongside us in that mission.
Support national and local organizations whose mission it is to advocate for racial and ethnic equity to whatever capacity you can. Examples of such organizations can be found by clicking here.
Make clear and conscious choices to shop at minority owned business and restaurants
Participate in the Economic Blackout happening on July 7th. Collectively, we can create a significant financial impact that makes a loud and clear statement.
Speak Up = “ Identify and interrupt bias and stereotyping, whether conscious or unconscious, subtle or overt.”
Embrace any and all opportunities to engage in discussions with classmates, friends, and family about the biases that each one of us harbor. Go beyond private support for your peers - have the hard conversations with those that need to have them.
Call out microaggressions, including microinvalidations, and question beliefs surrounding such comments. If unsure what may or may not be a microaggression, check out the APA's resource guide by clicking here.
Express humility in assessing one’s own gaps in knowledge, and create opportunities to learn. Challenge yourself to accept criticism regarding responses to issues of identity different than your own, with an open mind and as an opportunity to grow.
Talk Up = “Advocate, open doors, make connections, and find opportunities for colleagues of different backgrounds and demographic groups.”
Encourage Albany Medical College (AMC) to evaluate our curriculum so as to more intentionally and directly address the impact of police brutality and systemic racism. It is vital that we recognize these issues for what they are - a public health crisis.
Support efforts that provide resources and safe spaces to current and incoming students (e.g., listening circles, development of a physical space for inclusion/diversity).
Call on the AMC administration to issue official statements that address the impact events like these have on the student body and surrounding community.
We encourage students to share anonymous suggestions and solutions, including those mentioned above.
Know that inaction can no longer be considered acceptable. Regardless of your race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identification, microaggressions and macroaggressions will not be tolerated. Thank you to those who have already spoken up and shown support and those who will continue to stand up and move forward in solidarity with us. Take care of yourselves, particularly during this traumatic time and please reach out if there is any way USA can better support you.
As they always have, and they always will, #BlackLivesMatter.