As an organization that exists to improve health and health care for all, and which strives to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in our work and our field, we have watched in horror this week as racism and institutional violence has once again claimed precious black lives. The killing of George Floyd is devastating, and unacceptable. We grieve his loss. 

Racism is an ongoing public health crisis, as our peer organizations have highlighted.  Expressing our despair, our grief and our anger are important, but insufficient responses. We must use our emotion, our voice and our evidence to drive action.

We know that racism kills both directly and indirectly, and we must use all the tools of health services research to root out and address its toxic influence on health and health care. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that the seemingly endless list of African American lives lost to racism is likely to grow because of systemic forces that create disparities in health and health care and drive inequities in the social determinants of health.

We must strive for changes that increase diversity in the health services research workforce and support inclusive and nurturing environments for our diverse peers wherever they work or live. We must listen and learn from each other, amplifying diverse voices to improve understanding.

We must widely disseminate evidence on the impact of, and alternatives to, racist policies, educating decision makers at every level on the ways we can address social determinants and improve health and health care for communities of color.

We must develop new methods and carefully assess our data to ensure our work does not reinforce systemic, unconscious bias.

And more. There is so much work to do. The events of the last week build on centuries of deep seated structural, cultural and interpersonal racism. It will take sustained, long term effort to turn this deadly tide.

We are committed to this work. We stand in solidarity with those opposing racism and violence, and will continue to work with our members toward a better, fairer, healthier and more just future.

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