Most of the world is aware and has begun to grow tired of the extreme measures being taken to fight the COVID-19 global pandemic. Protests to loosen restrictions and demands for a return to normalcy dominate public and private debates. But significantly fewer extreme measures and attention are being paid to yet another pandemic we’ve been facing.
This other pandemic has been going on for so long that it has really become part of the background context of our daily lives. It has permeated every aspect of national and global societies, but it is usually consigned (for the most part) to buried stories, outros, or footnotes of the mainstream media. Yet its spread, the resulting devastation of our communities, and its death toll continue to rise—insidiously ignored or maliciously rationalized.
Statements that there are “good people” on both sides when one side is trying to defend individual rights while the other uses violence and spreads intolerance are so commonplace on the world stage these days, that they too represent a pandemic. A pandemic of intolerance, racism, and ignorance. A pandemic of harmful, selfish and uninformed ideologies fueled by self-serving agents of misinformation and duplicity.
Racism and intolerance are a pandemic that we have faced for decades, no, centuries and it only seems to be flaring up again in the current climate. But the trouble is that we have reached a level of saturation and indifference where, as a global community, we seem ready to ignore this pandemic and ignore its cost in human lives, in favour of returning to normal, to the status quo of caring about our own individual lives.
Unlike with COVID-19, rarely do we talk about the impact of intolerance on humanity, on society, on progress, and even the economy—these seem too abstract and too distant when compared with social distancing and isolation.
Innovation, the creation of new and better processes, products, and services depends on cultivating and nurturing new ideas. Diversity brings together multiple perspectives and ideas and strengthens the quality and impact of education, research, and overall human progress. Racism and ignorance stifle different perspectives and new ideas—they stifle humanity and progress!
At the TRP, we aim to provide a safe and positive space for creativity and innovation. We aim to encourage diversity, multiple perspectives and are devoted to fighting intolerance in all its forms. We aim to attract and retain diverse and excellent students, faculty members, and trainees, and to foster flexible working conditions that accommodate personal circumstances and create an inclusive environment. We support those peacefully fighting anti-Black racism and racism as a whole. It is our collective responsibility to build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environments where students and faculty continue to seek opportunities and partnerships that remain true to these goals while working diligently to stand in the way of those who oppose these ideals, spread hate and division, and stand in the way of creating a healthy human community.
TRP Program Director,
June, 1st 2020