Statement of Solidarity: Black Lives Matter
A message to pre-health students:
Like many of you, we are heartbroken at the injustices and racism that plague America today. We stand in solidarity with Black lives and are outraged at the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and the countless other innocent Black people who have died at the hands of racism, white supremacy and police brutality in our country. These are only the most recent victims of acts of racial injustice and violence in the long history of white supremacy in America. These acts are unjust and inhumane and won’t be tolerated any longer.
To our Black and Brown students, we acknowledge our failure to more clearly and intentionally recognize, understand, and address systemic racism that has existed for too long. We want you to know that we see you, we value you, and we seek to listen to you. Your lived experience is important to us. As advisors, we commit to being a part of the solution in the fight to end racial inequality and systematic oppression. We know getting there won’t be easy, but we know we must do our part to bring true, far-reaching, positive and lasting change to our campus and in our community. We realize that we will never fully understand your experience, but we stand with you. We know that at times, we will get this wrong. We have a lot to unlearn as White people. We are prepared to mess up and we will own it when we do. To that end, do not hesitate to call us into a conversation with you when we do.
Moving forward, we vow to listen and learn from leaders in the Black community so that we can better advocate and support efforts in developing into an anti-racist society. Below are specific action steps we plan to take to deepen our commitment. This is merely a starting point, as we must continually expand our action steps over time.
As an all-white office staff, we commit to deepening the unpacking of our own white privilege. We are committed to listening and learning from Black leaders. We are using teachings from Black writers such as Leesa Renee Hall, Layla F Saad, Rachel Cargle and others to deepen this exploration, along with ongoing discussion as a staff.
We commit to holding and maintaining a space (physically and/or virtually) where you are able to access advising services equitably and where your stories and lived experiences are heard and valued.
We commit to using our voices and privilege to elevate your voice to university administration on matters of injustice.
We commit to having conversations with our pre-health students on how to begin or deepen their cultural humility. We will encourage them to become an ally and change agent for the Black community by working to eliminate health disparities and inequities and specifically to dismantle the historically racist and discriminatory policies and practices in healthcare.
We recognize the injustices that Black people face in the pipeline to a career in medicine and we commit to advocating on your behalf to be treated equitably in the admissions process.
We encourage all of our students to join in these efforts in combating racism. We specifically call on our white students to do the challenging work of digging deep within themselves to recognize the areas of their lives that have afforded them privileges, how those privileges have shaped their biases, and how those biases have played out in their lived experience. We are doing this work as well. Reflection, writing and reading go hand in hand. To encourage your reflection, we suggest reading the website of Leesa Renee Hall, a Black woman who shares some expressive writing prompts to unpack and explore your privilege. If you use her prompts, and you have the financial means, donate and recognize her for the work she did to create this resource. Below are additional resources. As you read any books from the resources below, journal out your thoughts. Writing and reading are critical activities for exploration of the self. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the books and about your experiences in developing as an ally with communities of color. Be prepared that exploring and unpacking this can lead to some feelings of white guilt and shame. This is a normal response and it can be uncomfortable and confusing--but this is how we learn. It’s important to process these feelings, so please reach out to a supportive mentor, counselor, our office, friends or family members, and remember not to rely on a person of color, as it is not their job to console you regarding this.
Resources for mental health/wellbeing (for Cal Poly enrolled students):
Cal Poly Counseling Center: call 805-756-2511
Crisis Text Line for all (free, 24/7): text HOME to 741741
Crisis Text Line for students of color: text STEVE to 741741
Dean of Students: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a phone or virtual appointment with an advisor in CSM Student Services or Pre-health Advising
Resources to learn more about allyship:
Black Lives Matter
NAACP SLO Chapter
Ally Resource Guide
Ways to be an active ally for the Black community in 10, 15 and 45 minutes/day
75 things white people can do for racial justice
10 things every white teacher should know when talking about race (great for non-teachers too!)
TED Talks about racism
Books* (a non-exhaustive list, see above resources for additional readings):
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
How to be an Anti-racist by Ibram X Kendi
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
How to Be Less Stupid About Race and Racism by Crystal M Flemming
Pre-health reading list
*We encourage you to buy any books you intend to read from Black owned booksellers. A simple google search will help you find some.
This quarter has been a lot to take: we started this quarter with a pandemic and we’re ending it by reckoning with our country’s deeply ingrained racism. Please feel what you need to, and reach out to us for support. Do as best you can, and offer yourself grace, knowing that nothing about this quarter was easy. We are in this together with each of you.
In peace, discomfort, struggle, and uprising TOGETHER,
Your advising team**:
**This statement reflects the voices of Cal Poly Pre-Health Advising.