The American Veterinary Medical Association Stands in Solidarity With Black Lives Matter
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As the current and future veterinarians of the United States, we call on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to publicly announce their solidarity and support of Black Lives Matter. As member veterinarians, we believe it is our moral and professional duty to denounce racism and all senseless acts of violence. Racism is a social determinant of public health and the structural racism we are witnessing nationwide undermines the health of individuals, families, and the communities in which we serve. The Veterinarian’s Oath states that we shall “use [our] scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the promotion of public health.” We are currently facing a public health emergency in the United States and it is our responsibility to act.
Within the last three months, at least three acts of fatal, brutal force have occurred against individuals of the Black community, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. These acts demonstrate a need for structural change and we, as practicing and future veterinarians, believe in making measurable and attainable steps towards this change. We believe these efforts should be echoed all the way from the members up to the national organization that represents our profession. As stated in the AVMA Policy on Diversity and Inclusion, the “goal is to mirror the growing diversity of the communities we serve and to promote an understanding of their varied needs. To this end, we are committed to actively promoting and maintaining diversity and inclusion in our membership, leadership and organization, and educating our members regarding the value of diversity and inclusion.” As a profession that is 89% (disproportionately) white, we have an immense privilege, and an influential voice. We must wield our privilege in support of members of the community that are not afforded it. This is an opportunity to act in conjunction with the professional standards we claim to uphold.
In addition to publicly announcing support of Black Lives Matter, we call on the AVMA to briefly mention steps we as a profession are taking to combat structural racism. After reading an AVMA report in 2006 titled, “Unity Through Diversity,” some of these steps may include the following:
--Utilize the extensive online AVMA platform to put out a request for veterinary staff and students who are a part of the Black community and minorities within the profession to share their stories of how racism impacts their life as well as their career and journey to veterinary medicine.
—Providing required bias and diversity classroom and continuing education training to future and current practicing veterinarians.
--Ensure cultural competence within the profession to ensure AVMA member veterinarians are not engaging in structural racism, consciously or subconsciously
--Develop or enhance programs to increase admission and retention of veterinary professionals of the Black community
--Ensure veterinary presence and accessibility in all U.S. communities
--Encourage current and future veterinary professionals to practice anti-racism in all aspects of their life, professionally and otherwise
Now is a time in history when passivity and silence is not enough. In fact, it will be detrimental and in direct conflict with our duties and ethics as a profession. Thus, we have come together as current and future veterinary professionals of the American Veterinary Medical Association to request a public statement be made on behalf of your practicing members. Veterinarians stand with Black Lives Matter.
Addendum: While we acknowledge and are grateful for the statements that have been made to date, we call on the AVMA to move beyond their words and to transition their written policies into action.
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