We find it challenging to express how difficult these past weeks have been, but necessary. The brutal murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are the most recent unacceptable losses of life in America’s long history of violence against people of color. We stand firmly with and in support of all those speaking and acting out against racial violence and injustice, and hope that this work accelerates meaningful change.

We know that standing in solidarity is not a solution to systemic issues. The public health community has long known that racism is a public health crisis, a systemic and structural issue, a barrier to health equity, and a driver of health disparities. Now more than ever, it is paramount that we hold our leaders accountable and work towards policy and systems changes that create more equitable communities.

We must also acknowledge that our very own spaces of research and academia are not always safe and inclusive for people of color. At HER, we have a focus on advancing health equity in the areas of nutrition and food security. Healthy eating and food access inequities are inextricably linked with structural racial and social justice issues. How we approach this work has changed over time and will continue to evolve. We are still learning, and are grateful to our community for always challenging us to do better.

Today we have an even greater determination to review how we fund research, who is funded, the methodologies used, and how research is communicated, as we recognize the importance of these conversations in dismantling structural racism in academia. In the coming year, we aim to seek ideas from our collective community, including our National Advisory Committee (NAC), network of grantees, and partners, related to how we can continue to build on and strengthen our commitment and approach to building a Culture of Health, promoting health equity, and ensuring that all children and their families have the opportunity and resources to experience the best physical, social, and emotional health possible. We believe that holding ourselves accountable is important in changing the narrative.

The HER Team

Mary Story, Megan Lott, Kirsten Arm, Lauren Dawson, Erin Escobar, Lindsey Miller, and Vivien Needham