Racism and Racial Injustice Have no Home Here

By Allison Hammerly

Many have said that these are “unprecedented” times. The COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects communities of color, emphasizes the ways in which society must improve its ability to care for its most vulnerable members. Against this backdrop, the public has witnessed the unjust deaths of Black individuals like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, among countless others.

These times are not as unprecedented as they might seem to some; going forward, communities nationwide must guarantee the correct precedent is set. Just as the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic previously illustrated the danger of being unprepared for deadly outbreaks, the historical and unjust killing and treatment of Black people have illustrated the dangers of systemic racism. That these deaths and other crimes occurred and continue to occur causes much sorrow, anger, and pain, and prevents our nation from realizing the true American dream—that all people are created equal and must be treated as such.

The Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine stands against systemic racism and acts of violence against people of color. The College asserts that Black lives matter, and stands with its students, staff, faculty, and other members of the veterinary community as together they mourn, listen, speak out, and act against racism.

“To make progress, we must listen to Black, indigenous, and people of color [BIPOC] voices, and we must listen with our hearts pointed toward action,” says Dr. Hilda Mejia Abreu, associate dean of the College’s Office of Admissions, Student Life, and Inclusivity. “This moment must not be fleeting and the time for action is now.”

The College has launched initiatives for its students, faculty, and staff to commune, express emotions, and learn from one another.

Early in the summer of 2020, as the United States began to experience increased protests after the killing of George Floyd, the College held virtual town hall sessions for its community to respond to the ongoing events. These sessions were followed by a planned series titled “Anti-Racism Town Halls: Tools for Tough Conversations.” Scheduled throughout the fall semester, the events provided a venue for students, staff, and faculty to discuss common resource materials and dedicate themselves to combating racism within their own communities.

The College also is sponsoring community members who want to participate in a self-guided certificate program offered by the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, which focuses on diversity and inclusion in veterinary medicine. Upon completing the course during the 2020–21 academic year, participants will present on what they have learned with others in the College and facilitate similar discussions among other community members.

See more anti-racism resources here.