Public health students take stand with Mizzou

Public Health w/ Mizzou

Public health students show their support for University of Missouri–Columbia students Monday. Photo: Sara Giloth

Nov. 16, 2015

To the Students, Faculty, Staff, and Administration of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and system; in Solidarity with the University of Missouri-Columbia Concerned Student 1950 and all students that suffer continued anti-Black oppression and racism:

We, the members of the Radical Public Health Group of the UIC School of Public Health, wish to extend our gratitude and solidarity in the movement of the students at University of Missouri-Columbia. As we continue to follow our brothers and sisters in the struggle, we are acutely aware of the need to seek radical change in the abhorrent racist policies that govern the academic system. In an atmosphere that should support equitable opportunity for educational advancement, we continue to witness the oppressive, dangerous nature that exists within academia for black students, in particular, and any student that stands with their comrade in struggle.

The disregard for black bodies became evident the evening of Saturday, Oct. 10, when 11 students were present at the Mizzou Homecoming Parade in yet another attempt to demand a safe existence within the campus community, and were met with aggression and injury. Through this incident, and many before it, students organized to plan mission goals to push the Mizzou to address the ongoing issues of both institutional and overt anti-black racism. Only when the black football players of the university set to strike in solidarity, were members of the mass media slightly interested in the ongoing struggles of the students. We observe that this is yet another form of manipulation and oppression, as dictated by a racist media structure that seeks to utilize pain and suffering for ratings vs information or an upholding of human rights that should be guaranteed to every person in the United States and beyond. Therefore, we support the efforts of Concerned Student 1950 who demanded “safe space” for the activists once the media descended upon the campus.

These examples demonstrate only some of the incidents that continue to be a part of daily life for the Mizzou black students and for black students across this entire country. Threats of bodily harm in various forms, continued mental and emotional stressors, and lack of equity of are a continued part of the Black experience in the U.S. as demonstrated throughout our history. The Black Lives Matter movement has not only brought these continuing issues to light but has also ignited the backlash and retaliation of threatened white privilege whenever the demand for safe space is voiced.

Public Health is a matter of public safety and human rights, therefore, is a movement for social justice. RPH recognizes that none of the goals of public health can be met without the aforementioned.

With clarity, strength, and full voice, RPH fully and unequivocally supports all of the demands of Concerned Student 1950 be met immediately with university amendment and enforcement. We further support that these demands be utilized as a model for all public universities, with consequence of violation to be a swift and immediate until violations are resolved. These consequences should not be felt by the students, and systems need to be developed to support academic pursuit without interruption or ramifications. We demand a revision of public health and all other academic curriculum to reflect the experience and contributions of black people and all other marginalized communities, for this is public health.

We sit in a place of absolute respect, solidarity, and contemplative learning from Concerned Student 1950. We understand and acknowledge that what affects one, affects all. We know that through the elimination of anti-black racism and establishment of equity, through positive consequence, we as a society will benefit and move toward guaranteeing true public health and equity — for ALL.

We are watching and participating.

In Solidarity in the Struggle,

Radical Public Health
Minority Students for the Advancement of Public Health
Public Health Student Association

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