By: HVTN Leadership, HVTN Core, Seattle, WA, USA
A statement by HVTN leadership, June 2020.
George Floyd, Gabriella Nevarez, Michelle Cusseaux, Alexia Christian, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Charlena Lyles, Stephon Clark, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Che Taylor, Eric Garner, Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, Laquan McDonald…the list of Black/African American people murdered continues to grow. This is unacceptable.
Epidemics and pandemics are magnifying glasses for tragedies. Those of us who have fought to address the biological outcomes of racial injustice work every day in communities where the human cry of “no justice, no peace” is resonating off the walls. It echoes with us as we try to work in a world where structural racism and discrimination consistently highlight difference.
Racism and discrimination against Black/African Americans cannot continue to be normalized. We must shift how institutional policies are created, how policies and laws are enforced, and how we create spaces and environments that are welcoming, inclusive and support equity. This must happen at the community-level, institutional-level, and policy-level. America must be transformed in order for the senseless murders of Black/African Americans to stop. Transformation to truly bring about racial equity and justice must be guided by leaders who believe in human rights, anti-racism, and socio-economic equality for all citizens of this country. We who are involved in bettering humanity from diseases such as HIV must be leaders in achieving racial transformation in American society.
George Floyd’s fate at the hands of police in Minneapolis could be described as just the latest in a series of Black fatalities brought about by overzealous policing or racial profiling. We stand today with those who recognize these are times that call on us to examine our individual responses and corporate responsibilities. It is not possible to list in a brief statement the extent of the injustice. We urge all of us to reflect on what actions we can take to ensure a focus on anti-racism and continue to find a way forward that reverberates with the clarion cry “NO JUSTICE, NO PROGRESS.”
This call to activism about social justice in America was written by S. Wakefield, Michele Andrasik, Stephaun Wallace and Aziel Gangerdine and endorsed by the Executive Management Team of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network