Dear NJMS Community,
Today, the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) writes to you all with deep grief as yet again the devaluation of Black lives in America was broadcasted throughout the news and social media. It is important to understand that these are not newly broken systems or isolated incidents. The many issues we see in the media today are just highlights of systems in need of serious and meaningful reform.
In the past couple of months, we have seen the stories of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and George Floyd on display. We have seen the national uproar that has followed. These names and events are only a snapshot of the effects of the racial injustices that have YET to be uprooted from the foundation of our society.
It is incredibly important that as future physicians and members of the Newark community, a community where African Americans make up the largest racial demographic, we understand the ways in which this consistent trauma affects the health and wellbeing of the community. We have learned about the impact of structural racism on one's social determinants of health. The biological response to the chronic stress of racism in all forms contributes to the increased rates of chronic illnesses in Black communities. We have seen the manner in which these higher rates of chronic illnesses have left Black patients to experience disproportionate levels of morbidity and mortality. We implore you not to allow yourselves to become desensitized to these occurrences. None of us should be comfortable in an environment that endorses these practices as the norm, practices that are actively hurting communities that we have sworn to help heal.
We urge you to consistently speak up about the racial injustices you see in our nation, in our communities, and in our hospitals. We urge you to privately challenge and question the bias and assumptions of your peers. We urge you to vote for the representation that our communities deserve. We urge you to show up to advocate for public health policy reform and legislative initiatives that can bring about change. We urge to help dismantle structures that reinforce the idea that Black and marginalized lives are not valued. Lastly, we urge you to show up for the Black communities that surround our institution in the ways that we engage with members inside and outside of the hospital.
The work of changing societal values begins with these difficult conversations between all people, regardless of racial background. There is much to be done to earn the trust of those we wish to serve, and we hope we can all embark on this journey together.
SNMA Executive Board
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School