News Brief

Statement on Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Friday, October 2, 2020

Bunker Hill Community College | Office of the President

In June 2020, the Mayor of Boston declared racism as a public health crisis and began implementing strategies to mitigate its damaging effects. Shortly after, the cities of Somerville, Revere, Everett, and Chelsea joined this declaration. In September, amid growing evidence, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley challenged the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to acknowledge the role of racism in precipitating the current deep public health crisis.

Bunker Hill Community College joins our municipal and congressional leadership in declaring, in the strongest terms, that racism is a public health crisis. Voices from our campus have raised these concerns and called for immediate solutions to support our Black and brown students and employees. We join efforts across sectors to shape longer-term strategies to dismantle racism and ensure a just and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In recognition of the seriousness of this public health concern, the College will address the crisis at multiple levels. In the immediate term, the College will identify and provide mental health and basic needs support for our Black and brown learners and employees. To ensure this focused concern is sustained, we will braid this perspective and connected solutions into the Strategic Plan and the Goals of the College. This particular lens will also inform our guiding documents, policies, and procedures. A continuous assessment of these efforts will be undertaken at the implementation level, and also through periodic dialogue with the College community.

Systemic racism, existing as vestiges of historically discriminatory systems entangled in our current policies and practices, continues to erect barriers for our Communities of Color, and prevents them from achieving social and economic equity. While the recent murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd cast a spotlight on police brutality, the killing of Black lives and the danger posed to the mental health of Black Communities, have existed for centuries. Systemic disinvestments mirror the culture of violence and repression in these communities. We witnessed the resulting deterioration during the COVID-19 Pandemic, from the concentration of high-risk essential frontline work in Communities of Color to the lack of basic needs, inadequate health care, and the intractable wealth and education gap over generations.

Racism precipitated a public health crisis of broad dimensions and long duration. The failure of social and economic systems to provide a safety net for Black Communities and Communities of Color is unacceptable. We will, as a College community and as part of multi-sector collaborations, take actions to mitigate the high risks imposed by this crisis.

Pam Eddinger, PhD