We, in the Anthropological Responses to Health Emergencies Special Interest Group (ARHE SIG), condemn the recent killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and so many other African Americans. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and others in the fight against police brutality, criminal prosecution of police brutality, and the destruction of systemic racism anywhere it is found. We deplore the continued abuse of protesters by police in many cities around the country. We mourn the deaths of so many Black people at the hands of American police. The criminalization of mental illness, substance use, and poverty has resulted in a profound loss of life, equity, and opportunity for BIPOC in the United States for the last four centuries. ARHE supports the development of community services that address these issues within BIPOC communities.
We focus on health emergencies such as epidemics and the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, we define health emergency broadly and, as such, we view the centuries of racist abuse to be an epidemic that has taken countless lives and is long overdue to be addressed. As anthropologists, we are aware of the discipline’s own role in anti-Black systemic racism inside academia and within our work. As the current pandemic is demonstrating, systemic racist policies have led to health disparities which are disproportionately impacting Black, Latinx and indigenous communities in this current health emergency. We hold ourselves accountable for standing against racism, brutality, and inequity everywhere we see it and using our skills as anthropologists to shine light on the dark heart of systemic racism and structural violence wherever it lurks.