The events of 2020 and ongoing discussion in the scientific literature have emphasized the importance of an honest appraisal of how societal problems affect us and how individual behaviors, including unintentional actions and implicit biases, negatively impact others. Those subjected to such negative influences include members of the LGBTQ community, followers of specific religions, and those subjected to bias based on national origin or native language. In academic science, our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) colleagues are especially subjected to negative influences. To this end, the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology wish to state the following:
We acknowledge that there is a deep seated history of violence, injustices and policy decisions that target people of color including police brutality, healthcare inequalities, dehumanization of Black lives and continued killing of people of color. We unequivocally oppose this. As a department, we support our BIPOC colleagues. We recognize that our BIPOC colleagues experience implicit bias, microaggressions and racism in our university and in the community.
We acknowledge that academia, like other career fields, is not immune from racism, microaggressions and implicit biases that manifest in behavior detrimental toward people of color. We in the department share a common goal of fostering a fair and just academic environment that will allow every member of our community to maximize their ability to be successful in attaining their professional and personal goals. As a department, we understand that we need to fully embrace the work we must do to treat everyone equitably.
We strive to proactively eliminate these negative, implicit behaviors by encouraging faculty to participate in training on the impacts of microaggressions and implicit bias. For example, our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement office offers courses that are part of an Equity Certificate program that include courses focusing on “Unconscious Bias and Virtual settings,” “From Bystander to Active Allyship,” “What’s in a Name? Equity Concepts” and “Leading through an Equity Lens” that faculty are encouraged to attend (https://www.cuanschutz.edu/offices/diversity-equity-inclusion-community/trainings-workshops/equity-certificate-program). Furthermore, faculty are strongly encouraged to review the resources on anti-racism in biomedical research, which can be found here: https://www.diversityprogramconsortium.org/pages/anti-racism_resources. These training opportunities represent a first step towards recognizing and actively addressing how each faculty member can contribute to make the departmental environment more inclusive. Ultimately, the training should not just focus on what “not” to say, but how faculty can use our power to make everyone feel valued and included.
We acknowledge and respect that students, postdocs, staff members and faculty members have their own life truths and personal histories. We (the faculty) do not and will not pretend to fully understand or tell individuals how to feel, however, we are willing to listen, empathize and accept.
We recognize that statements like this one are of little good if they are not also backed up by meaningful actions. We intend to implement such actions, e.g., active allyship, including interventions to confront microaggressions and other negative behaviors, and call on all members of the Pharmacology department community– students, postdocs, staff and faculty– to speak up when we observe such behaviors.