This has been an incredibly challenging year for all members of our community. The recent police-related killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans have highlighted and underscored the persistent racial discrimination in policing across the country. Protests and demonstrations have sprung up nationwide and across the world. We commend all of our community members who joined in peaceful protests and who actively engage in the work necessary to dismantle racism in all aspects of society.

The challenges of systemic racism persist across the world and here in Baltimore, where civil unrest 5 years ago manifested this city’s pain when Freddie Gray died in police custody. At Johns Hopkins University, we must work to educate ourselves, question if the existing paradigms of power are fair and just, and improve our policies to support historically disadvantaged communities. We must advocate for change from our department, our university, our city, our country. We must not shy away from discussing these topics, as challenging as these conversations may be. This discourse, now more than ever, is necessary at all levels: with friends, family, and co-workers.

On the individual front, we encourage our community members unfamiliar with these issues to take the time to read about the history of explicit [1] and systemic [2] racism, and on the racial biases in policing and the judicial system [3], [4], [5], [6]. Beyond educating ourselves on issues extending back before the founding of this country, we encourage our community members to work towards recognizing and dismantling their own unconscious biases and engaging in the tenets of antiracism [7], [8], as well as supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in its efforts to eliminate racism [9], [10], [11].

We reaffirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion and seek to diversify the demographics of our faculty, staff, and student body. This is a long-term commitment, and we are dedicated to realizing this change. We encourage everyone to read our department’s Diversity Action Plan and to offer ideas, comments or concerns to our Diversity and Inclusion Committee or to make use of our online anonymous suggestions form. We also want to share with you some resources that may be of value during these times, such as the University’s Student Wellness services and a listing of links to:

We want every member of our department to know that your presence is valued in our community and that your voice and your concerns matter. We hope that with support and concerted effort across our community, we can not only improve ourselves and our department, but help in the efforts to improve our city and country as well.

Paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: No one is free until we are all free.