Try Harder, Be Better: An Anti-Oppression Program for One Health Professionals

On April 5, 2021, the One Health Institute announced the four winning projects from the 2021 One Health Integration in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Black Lives Matter (BLM) Competitive Grant. Here we take a closer look at Try Harder, Be Better.

Who is on the Project Team?

Michael Ziccardi, Eunah Preston, Brooke Genovese, Bridgette Smith and Amy Bond

What is a brief summary of your project?

The COVID-19 pandemic, and historic movements such as the climate crisis protests and Black Lives Matter, have ignited an urgent and long overdue call to action to address the inequities in our current global health ecosystem. Dismantling centuries of systemic racism needs integrated, decolonized, and indigenized approaches that draw from a variety of perspectives and communication styles. This project employs a daring mode of engagement that combines interactive workshops with high-level conversations centering and uplifting Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC) voices who are leading the charge of making intersectional global health theories standard practice. Drawing from established experiential learning frameworks, this pilot will help create a workplace that can identify, name, challenge, and ultimately transform the structures that keep white supremacy and discrimination fixed in our institutions at home and abroad.

What motivated you to create this particular project?

The Black Lives Matter and #ShutdownSTEM movements coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic have forced people to think about systemic racism and oppression with a health-oriented perspective. The One Health Institute is renowned for scientific leadership in the global health arena, and has projects and programs that operate all over the world; with UCD students, faculty, and staff working directly with local communities. It’s incredibly important that the OHI sets an example for how to internally and intentionally do the work to identify, dismantle, and replace oppressive systems and behaviors in academia and development work. While there has been a surge in information available ranging from decolonizing global health work to identifying microagressions in the workplace, we wanted to create something immersive that not only mirrored the everyday experiences of BIPOC people, but left participants inspired and equipped with the skills to effectively call-out oppressive behaviors and be a better ally.

What is your vision for the future after your pilot project?

Our vision is to have more funding and resources allocated to immersive DEI trainings and workshops for University faculty, staff, and students, especially in the post-COVID era. Virtual trainings and informative talks and seminars are a great way to continuing learning in the Anti-Oppression realm, but they can’t replace experiential trainings and workshops.

What is one thing a person can do today to educate themselves and be a strong ally?

A good start to strong allyship is listening. This can take the form of conversations with friends and peers as well as reading up on literature by BIPOC authors discussing the BIPOC experience. Seek opportunities for self-edification instead of asking the BIPOC community to do the lifting for you. Once you start actively listening, you’ll discover there are many ways you can help.  

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