CHASCo Executive Committee Statement on Racial Justice

CHASCo Executive Committee Statement on Racial Justice

2020 has been a year of profound sadness and national unrest. The murder of George Floyd, along with the many other unnecessary deaths of Black and Brown people in our communities, weighs heavily on our hearts. We are seeing many communities who are hurting, understandably angry, and demanding change. We want these communities to know we see you, we hear you, and we hurt with you. Compounded with the current COVID-19 situation, we are in unprecedented times.

The Coalition for Healthy and Safe Campus Communities (CHASCo) is a coalition whose mission is to connect and support institutions of higher education in Tennessee to address campus health and safety issues. No one is safe until members of our communities of color are safe. The current state of our communities is directly and indirectly related to and impacts the work of our institutions and coalitions. As prevention and health promotion practitioners, we recognize that issues of racial inequity and oppression tie in with health outcomes, health disparities, and social determinants of health.

CHASCo strongly condemns acts of racism and the systemic injustice that continues to devastate our country.

Authentic prevention work is about cultivating environments and communities where all people can thrive; however, racism is built into the very fabric of the systems and foundation of this nation and must be addressed. The anti-racism work needed to combat institutional racism is critical to CHASCo’s mission of addressing campus health and safety issues. Furthermore, this work cannot fall on the shoulders of our communities and colleagues of color, but rather calls to action our white communities to serve as listeners, allies, and activists in this fight for justice.

Below we have outlined some resources and ideas for exploration, action, and self-care. Our Executive Committee will continue to explore how we as a Coalition can identify the steps needed to engage in meaningful anti-racist work while working to enhance our prevention and education efforts to specifically address health disparities and promote health equity.

What Can We Do?

  • Continue to educate ourselves. Continue to explore and seek to understand issues of implicit bias, microaggressions, white privilege, systemic racism, and beyond. As a starting point, you might consider revisiting our recent plenary on Recognizing Racial Bias & Incorporating Restorative Approaches to Prevention by Sharon Travis. You can find the recording at this link. The Harvard Implicit Bias Association Test and this video on Implicit Bias are materials referenced within that presentation. There are also professional development opportunities/tools offered by groups like the Racial Equity Institute and Teaching Tolerance, materials provided by The Kirwan Institute, and literature that are available to guide your journey. 
  • Identify groups and organizations to broaden your understanding of racial inequity. There are likely organizations in your community or on your campus that seek to address diversity and inclusion issues. Consider joining them to advocate for and support communities of color. Some examples of national groups include Black Lives Matter (which has local chapters in Nashville and Memphis), Color of Change, The Steve Fund, and Be The Bridge.
  • Provide care for your colleagues of color. This article may serve to provide some insight and empathy to their current struggle. Not only is COVID-19 a reality, but so are existential threats to their safety and wellbeing. Consider ways to better support them during these difficult times such as lifting some of the burden from their shoulders and having empathy for challenges to their workflow.
  • Talk with your children about racism. This article  provides a framework for the importance of talking with our children, and there are a myriad of additional resources that are available to help you get started. Remember that this is an ongoing conversation to be revisited at different levels of development and throughout their lives.
  • Take care of yourselves as best you can. These are difficult times and you may be feeling a myriad of feelings. Please remember that you are worthy of rest and care. The Jed Foundation has offered an option for confidential conversations at any time by texting START to 741-741 or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8253). There are also free apps like Breathe2Relax and MyLife that you may find useful.

Please join us as we continue our work toward building healthier and safer communities in Tennessee,

The Executive Committee of the Coalition for Healthy & Safe Campus Communities (CHASCo)