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Images Are Important: An Apology

Images are Important: An Apology from NIMHD's Director
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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

On November 10, NIMHD shared an image through our online channels that was intended to reflect the results of a recent study, which found that police killings are dramatically underreported. Mortality from police violence is more than two times greater than what is reported in the U.S. National Vital Statistics System—and the under-reporting is particularly marked for African American individuals. I was one of the co-authors of this research paper and I am profoundly saddened that so many people die during encounters with police every year.

The picture chosen was intended to reflect the unfortunate reality that occurs all too often. However, the image was insensitive and deeply disheartening. Our thoughtful research community has made it clear to us that by sharing this image, NIMHD unintentionally retraumatized people who experience the indignities, dangers, violence, and stress of racism every day. We sincerely apologize. We have removed the image and will do better in future postings.

Improving the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is the everyday work of this Institute. NIMHD is committed to continuing to lead the scientific efforts to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to manage, reduce, and eliminate structural racism and discrimination.

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NIMHD Director Statement in Support of NIH Efforts to Address Structural Racism

NIH Ending Structural Racism initiative
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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIH Ending Structural Racism initiativeOn March 1, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the launch of UNITE, a new NIH initiative aimed at bringing an end to structural racism in biomedical research. In his statement, Dr. Collins recalled the agency’s longstanding support of programs to expand the diversity of the scientific workforce, but he acknowledged shortfalls in NIH’s efforts to bring “…diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and skillsets to complex scientific problems.” As the Director of NIMHD, I enthusiastically endorse this newly stated goal for NIH to address, manage and eliminate systemic racism and discrimination embedded in policies and practices in the biomedical research enterprise. Since its beginnings as an Office more than three decades ago, NIMHD has promoted and supported the recruitment and training of a diverse workforce as part of its mission in research and training. We will continue that work while contributing our knowledge, experience, training programs, and tools to our collective goal of ending structural racism and discrimination, by building a biomedical workforce that reflects the populations we serve at all levels of authority within NIH and in our grantee institutions.

Continue reading “NIMHD Director Statement in Support of NIH Efforts to Address Structural Racism”

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Racism and the Health of Every American

NIMHD Director's statement on racism and the health of every American
NIMHD Director's Statement

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The past few weeks have been an extremely difficult time in the United States. George Floyd’s death was so painful to witness. Even more painful is the knowledge that he was only one in a long, long line of African American men and women who have been killed by police in America. It is a relentless, terrible history, and his death was yet another reminder of injustice in our lives. It is the same injustice that American Indians suffered in colonial times and the 19th century, losing their lands and being victimized by war. It is the same injustice that led to mass deportation of Mexican Americans—people born in the United States—in the 1930s. It is the same injustice that led to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This is our history.

I have watched the protests—at times coupled with violence but mostly peaceful—and been heartened by the Americans of all races who have continued to show up, day after day, to say that Black lives matter and structural racism must end. This is a society that is proud to say that all are created equal, with liberty and justice for all, but the history of injustice is clear. People are not standing for it anymore. Continue reading “Racism and the Health of Every American”

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