As our country struggles with the tragedies and trauma that have occurred over the past week stemming from centuries of racism, we cannot and will not stay silent. The deaths of George Floyd, Amaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless more Black Americans are unjust and unacceptable. The faculty of the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill denounce the actions of the police officers in Minnesota associated with the death of George Floyd, and support the decision to hold those responsible accountable for these horrific actions. We express our deepest sorrow and frustration with these most recent of many historical incidents of violence toward Black Americans, and we also call our profession to action.
As occupational therapists and occupational scientists, we stand for justice, equity, and the right of all humans to participate in their choice of occupations of everyday living. We believe the color of a person’s skin should not limit the ability to jog, bird watch, visit public spaces, drive, or simply live out everyday routines. The systemic violence, police brutality, and continued health inequities that face our clients, practitioners, and students of color, especially Black Americans, cannot continue. The profession of occupational therapy is, like all professions, not immune from structural racism that continues to plague our country. We are committed to confronting racism wherever it hides and to doing the work necessary to demand change in our practices, our institutions, our research, and our classrooms.
As a Division, we commit to ongoing anti-racist work among our faculty, in our classrooms, within our community, and within our state in the form of curricular development, workshops, social and societal engagement, and ongoing reflection to prepare ourselves, practitioners, and our graduates to catalyze change in response to injustice. We must use our strengths as occupational therapists to combat these issues: therapeutic use of self, strong critical reasoning skills, and a unique perspective of the transactional relationship among person, environment, and occupation. We can ignite change as we become more aware of our biases, listen to and empathize with the lived experiences of others, employ our critical reasoning, promote occupational justice, and work collaboratively to move forward.
We invite other occupational scientists, practitioners, programs, and organizations to join us in this endeavor. We must act now.