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ISSI Responses to Covid19

We are maintaining a page on the ISSI website to collect the work of our affiliates and alumni in response to Covid19, and we have a similar page on the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine site for social medicine perspectives on the pandemic. We also acknowledge and appreciate that many in our community are advocating for those who are hit hardest by the pandemic, and some in our community are in that group. We grieve with those who are mourning, and our thoughts are with those who are sick or on the frontlines, whether in grocery stores or hospitals.

Farmworker Health and Covid-19

Berkeley Center for Social Medicine co-chair Seth Holmes was interviewed by a few news stations regarding his work on farmworker health and the Covid-19 pandemic:

CBS News (Miami):  "Facing South Florida: Florida Farmworkers"; NBC News (Fort Myers and Naples): "Immokalee Residents Suffer from Lack of Coronavirus Testing, Poor Living Conditions"; and FOX News (Fort Myers and Naples): "Immokalee Quickly Becoming the Epicenter of COVID-19 Cases in Southwest Florida"

Black Lives Matter logo

Black Lives Matter

ISSI stands in solidarity with those protesting anti-Black violence and working to promote racial justice in policing, health care, and all spheres of society. There are many relevant resources on our website; we would like to draw your attention to two essays written by members of our community: The Vital Shift from “Idiosyncratic” to “Systemic” by Troy Duster, Chancellor’s Professor and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change (the precursor to ISSI), and On George Floyd and the Struggle to Belong by Denise Herd, ISSI affiliated faculty member and Professor of Public Health.

Structural Competency Working Group Position Statement

The Structural Competency Working Group, a project of Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, issued a position statement on racism, police violence, and health equity. The statement calls for the end of police brutality and health inequity and provides specific actions divided into intrapersonal/interpersonal, institutional/community, and policy/research categories.

Khatharya Um Receives Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and Equity

Khatharya Um, Center for Research on Social Change faculty affiliate and Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, received the Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and Equity. The award is presented to UC Berkeley faculty members who have an extraordinary record of accomplishment in advancing equity, inclusion and diversity through their scholarship, research, teaching, and public or university service. Professor Um’s research has highlighted how war, genocide, and refugee experiences have affected communities in the United States, and she has worked to advance educational equity and opportunity in both local and international communities. Professor Um will utilize this award to continue her research with a focus on post-refugee-generation experiences among Southeast Asian communities in the U.S. and on new refugee communities in the Bay Area.

Survey on COVID-19 Impact on Refugees and Refugee-Serving Organizations - please help spread the word

The Critical Refugee Studies Collective, including Center for Research on Social Change faculty affiliate Khatarya Um, is conducting a survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees, their families and communities, refugee-serving organizations and support groups. Please disseminate information about the survey through your networks - deadline is July 1.

Link to survey for refugee-serving organizations or support groups

Link to survey for refugees

Questions? contact Professor Um at 

Among the reasons COVID-19 is worse for black communities: Police violence

Berkeley Center for Social Medicine faculty affiliate Denise Herd is quoted in this Berkeley News article about her work on police violence, a largely unexamined factor in high rates of Covid-19 among African Americans. Herd's forthcoming article in Boston University Law Review discusses the trauma and stress caused by police violence in African American communities and the physical toll of that violence.

Defund the Police sign

What Would it Mean to Defund the Police?

Center for Research on Social Change affiliated faculty Nikki Jones was a recent guest on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny, talking about what it means to “defund police.” One idea is to divert money from police departments into social services that can prevent crime and address its causes. Proponents say cities need to radically overhaul their systems of policing after years of failed reform efforts.

Troy Duster, campanile

The Vital Shift from “Idiosyncratic” to “Systemic”

In this essay, Troy Duster, Chancellor’s Professor and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change (the precursor to ISSI), links changing perceptions of police violence and health disparities in Covid-19. He suggests that both problems are now perceived as systemic, which opens the door to specific reforms which can promote racial justice.

ICE agents are still performing raids – and using precious N95 masks to do so

Berkeley Center for Social Medicine (BCSM) co-chair Seth Holmes and BCSM affiliate Miriam Magaña Lopez call for an end to immigration raids in this op-ed in the March 31, 2020 edition of The Guardian. The article states that "ICE raids conducted by the federal government are putting our country at risk, worsening a critical shortage of medical supplies and leading to overcrowding and movement that facilitate the spread of Covid-19. At this historic moment, we must set our priorities straight. If we want to survive, we must stop ICE raids, detention and deportation. We must provide protective equipment to frontline workers in our health system. Our lives and the future of our society depend on it."



Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
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