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LGBTQ+ Students and Allies in Public Health Denounce Anti-Black Violence and Racism

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“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”  - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

We, the undersigned members of LGBTQ+ Students and Allies in Public Health (LGBTQ-SAPH), strongly denounce police brutality and impunity against Black communities and, more broadly, racism and white supremacy in all their societal manifestations. We unequivocally express our support of the Black community, and all other communities of color demanding justice. Repeatedly inflicted violence against Black folx from our most powerful institutions is one of many clear, unmistakable signs of racial injustice in society today. 

Not only is our society’s consistent devaluation of Black lives a moral failing, it is also an insidious betrayal harming the livelihoods of Black folx. The science is clear: anti-blackness and racism, in all forms, constitutes a grave public health crisis demanding urgent action from us all. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, and call for the dismantling of systems of power and privilege that marginalize Black communities and cause human suffering. 

Justice is demanded for George Floyd, McKinsley Lincoln, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, and all other Black lives and lives of color that have been taken too soon at the hands of racially-motivated violence and brutality. 

We further recognize that much of the progress achieved in the movement toward LGBTQ+ equality is attributable to the work of Black activism. Oppression of all marginalized communities is intertwined; our victories and our shortcomings are inseparable, and our dedication to social justice must be intersectional. As students united by commitment to our organization mission that seeks to promote health equity and social justice among LGBTQ+ communities, we recognize that this commitment requires pursuing racial justice and equity among all communities of color. 

Thus, LGBTQ-SAPH commits to the following actions in our mission to achieve racial health equity and social justice among Black LGBTQ+ student communities and all other LGBTQ+ student communities of color:

  1. All LGBTQ-SAPH initiatives to promote health equity and social justice among LGBTQ+ communities will bring race and racism to the forefront; we will ensure that our projects aim to impact Black student communities and other student communities of color in positive and meaningful ways.

  2. Allyship toward Black student communities and other student communities of color will be promoted in all branding materials of LGBTQ-SAPH, including through continuing intentional use of rainbow flags with black and brown stripes, inclusive language, and overall inclusive graphic design and branding.

  3. Our current leadership board and active group members are proudly composed of a persons of color majority. We commit to continuing to engage with the UMD student community in ways that express clear allyship toward communities of color and hope to increase participation from more students and allies of color, especially Black students.

  4. Lastly, we commit to organizing a discussion group especially for Black LGBTQ+ students and allies, and other students and allies of color, to learn more about what we can do as a student organization to help dismantle systems perpetuating structural racism at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and beyond.

Positionality Statement: this statement was prepared by LGBTQ-SAPH student members of color. All LGBTQ-SAPH student members supporting the movement against anti-Black violence and police brutality, and all other forms of racism, were invited to express their support by signing their names.

In solidarity, 

John P. Salerno (He/Him), MPH, PhD Candidate (Behavioral & Community Health), LGBTQ-SAPH President

Zanne Gogan (They/Them), MPH Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

M Pease (They/Them), BS (Psychology) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

Bryanna Nketia (She/Her), BS (Public Health Science) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Vice President 

Jackson Devadas (He/Him), BS (Biology) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

Logan Stevens (He/Him), BS (Computer Science & Theatre) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

Sarika Walia (She/Her), BS (Public Health Science) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member, 

Chloe Mañus (She/They), BS (Public Health Science) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

Natasha D. Williams (She/Her), MS, LMFT, PhD Student (Family Science), LGBTQ-SAPH Member

G Deleon (She/Her), BS (Behavioral and Community Health) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member 

Christopher Pérez (He/Him), Director, Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

Hala Salih (She/Her), BS (Public Health Science) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

David J. Hawthorne (He/Him), MS, PhD Student (Behavioral & Community Health), LGBTQ-SAPH Treasurer

Barbara Curbow (She/Her), Faculty Advisor, Behavioral and Community Health & UMD-PRC

Libby Burgon (She/Her), BS (Public Health Science) Student, LGBTQ-SAPH Member

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