Do No Harm and Make Change Now
Arts and culture are integral partners in the realization of healthier and more equitable lives for people everywhere. As those who work with the arts to enhance the health and well-being of communities, we at the Center for Arts in Medicine have a deep responsibility to do no harm and advance health equity. We begin this mission by acknowledging our position within the history of our institution and community, and we detail our commitment to repairing the legacies of injustices that are consequential to this history.
We acknowledge that we are a research-based academic unit at a predominantly white institute of higher education that has operated within the existing power structures, historically rooted in white supremacy.
We understand that research and community engagement practices also have a history rooted in racist and colonial practices that have contributed to the unjust exploitation and extraction of knowledge, information and resources from indigenous communities and communities of color (Winn, 2008).
We understand that arts and culture are among the most powerful means for speaking truth and making change. Yet, we understand that the arts - as a sector and collection of disciplines in this country - has a history of racist, hierarchical, and exclusionary practices, including beliefs in the superiority of European/white culture and artistic practices, appropriation of artistic and cultural practices, and theft of artistic works and cultural artifacts.
Aspirations and Commitments
We are deeply committed to anti-racism. We are committed to achieving equity through awareness and action. We are committed to doing our part toward dismantling the legacies and injustices of colonialism, oppression and racism in the field of arts in health and in our country.
In our research and community engagement, we see need and opportunity to reshape policies and practices in alignment with anti-racist approaches.
In our academic programs, we see an opportunity to reshape policies and practices in alignment with anti-racist approaches, such as identifying processes that support successful degree program completion.
In the Center’s work culture, we see need and opportunity to reshape our policies and practices in alignment with anti-racist approaches, such as adoption of a broad range of workstyles.
We humbly approach this work. We are committed to actively leaning into discomfort in order to understand, learn and create change. We invite feedback, pushback, and accountability in our commitment to this work.
Winn, J. E. (2008). Documenting racism in an agricultural extension film. Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies, 38(1), 33-43.
We are taking action in these ways, among others:
Our faculty and staff participated in the 2½-day Undoing Racism Community Organizing Workshop with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) in 2019. We have continued to engage in follow-up work with PISAB, and in structured dialogues with our faculty, staff and community members who participated in the program together.
We engage as a Center in reading and discussion of texts such as Ibram Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and la paperson’s A Third University is Possible, and attend lectures and presentations on the topic of antiracism together.
We have contracted with a curriculum equity consultant for one year (so far) to support and guide our faculty in conducting curriculum and course equity audits in the 2020-21 academic year. These audits are intended to identify and address where racism, white supremacy and white saviorism are present in our curricula and in the discipline of arts in health, and to identify where BIPOC voices, histories, traditions and practices are missing or need to be centered.
We work closely with prospective BIPOC applicants to our academic programs to build strong applications. We also rely on a holistic admission process that reduces the emphasis on historically racist measures, such as GPA, and removes GRE testing requirements.
In spring 2021, we launched an internal systems equity audit to examine our practices, processes and systems related to - for example - student life-cycles (movement through our programs from inquiry to graduation and alumni engagement), faculty and staff hiring, management, promotion and retention, and communications.
In April of 2021, we implemented a Center for Arts in Medicine Equity Working Group, led by students who are compensated for their time and effort, to host discussions and to identify and make plans for addressing equity issues and advancing equity within the Center.
We are applying an anti-racist frame to our research practices and processes, and are explicitly investigating disparities and racism in our own research agendas.
As a visible and influential member of the field of arts in health, we are developing and offering anti-racism programming and resources, such as our webinars and Anti-racism Arts Response Repository, an open-access repository designed to highlight and enable impactful arts-based responses to racism, especially highlighting work undertaken since the murder of George Floyd, to support individuals and communities in building their own power through the arts.
In October 2022, we hosted the Creating Healthy Communities Convening: Advancing Health and Health Equity through Arts and Public Health Collaborations. With the overarching goal of creating stronger, healthier, and more equitable communities through cross-sector collaboration, we centered health equity in research and practice of the field of Arts in Public Health. View the full program here. Through our Equity Sponsorships we were able to fund nearly 200 full-registration scholarships.
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