Posted Friday, June 5, 2020, UC Davis Health Friday Update message

Dear Colleagues,

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Last week, Vice Chancellor Lubarsky, Deans Brashear and Cavanagh, and I sent a leadership message denouncing the racial violence and police brutality that took the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black lives. There is a longstanding epidemic of racism that manifests in loss of life and health and creates barriers to education and economic well-being. We expressed our commitment to addressing this epidemic, and called on you to join us.

On its own, though, this message is just words if not followed by determined action. So, today, I would like to share some of what we are doing and plan to do:

  • Healing together: I understand from a psychiatrist's standpoint that healing takes different forms. We are holding healing circles, spaces where people can share, receive and provide support. Our “Coping as a Community” webinars also provide practical skills on coping and supporting others. And, our most recent webinar focused on coping in the context of racial trauma, and strategies to be an authentic ally and ways to address structural racism. We hope that this will help with your healing process.
  • Learning together: An important first step to addressing racism is to become informed. Let’s shift the burden of teaching us about racism solely away from Black people and other minoritized groups who already bear the weight of bias, and take the initiative to learn and share resources, such as those found on this diversity, equity and inclusion web page. In addition, we have plans for webinars focusing on structural racism, anti-racism topics, and multicultural learning and celebration. We are also underway with training faculty and clinicians to address racism and other forms of bias in the learning and training environment, and have plans to hold anti-racism training with our health campus police department.
  • Acting together: Addressing structural racism takes collective effort. Through our new AIM (Anchor Institution Mission) for Community Health Initiative, we will leverage the health system’s economic weight to address the structural factors such as poverty, unemployment and education barriers that are behind racial violence and health inequities. And, we will work to broaden our partnerships with local minority- and women-owned businesses, enhance recruitment and development of our local and diverse workforce, and bring down barriers that prevent minoritized communities from accessing quality education.
  • Marching together: The NAACP is holding a peace march for George Floyd and others killed by racial injustice on Saturday, June 6. UC Davis Health will be joining colleagues from the Davis campus to march with the message that racism is detrimental to health, and that everyone must have the opportunity to live and breathe. The plan is to meet at 9:45 a.m. at the Golden 1 Center (near Urban Outfitters), 15 minutes before the march’s official start, and then march in solidarity. Also, I'd like to point out that UC Davis offers an array of resources for members of the community seeking support in addressing racial trauma.

All of these efforts reflect just the first steps of how we must address the epidemic of racism. Moving forward, I deeply welcome your collaboration and ideas. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Yet our collective will, ingenuity and effort determine how quickly and sharply the arc bends. Indeed, we’ve made significant progress to flatten the COVID-19 curve. So, let’s work together to bend the moral arc towards racial justice!

Yours in health,

Hendry Ton, M.D., M.S.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion