SAN ANTONIO – A UT Health San Antonio professor and pediatrician has been named one of 24 Ford Global Fellows worldwide who have been appointed to spend the next 10 years trying to identify, connect and support the next generation of social justice leaders to create positive change regarding racial inequality.
Dr. Rachel Pearson is an M.D., a PhD, and now a Ford Fellow, who will split her time between treating children at University Hospital with fighting racial injustice, as well as her writing on the subject.
Twenty four social leaders were appointed to this task worldwide and they have begun meeting via teleconference this week. The timing for starting talks could not be more sensitive.
Pearson said following protests over the death of George Floyd and the rioting that sparked across the nation, racial equality is having its biggest moment.
“It’s a hard moment for so many people and people are really angry and suffering and fighting. But I do believe that out of this disruption, we can build a more equal society,” said Pearson.
Her perspective is in general humanities, but also specific to how medically, black communities suffer more than white communities. She said she likes the focus to be on the idea that those who are sick deserve to be taken care of based on that we are human and suffering, nothing more.
While all communities have suffered economically, some have been hurt emotionally and medically more than others during the pandemic. More African Americans die of COVID-19 for a variety of reasons, said Pearson.
“How it’s affecting the black community is long standing injustice that is playing itself out in the body. So chronic stress from racism and poverty. The increased rates of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are the very same conditions that make you more vulnerable to coronavirus," she explained.
Emotional stress to black children losing their parents and grandparents has also been disproportionate.
The Ford Foundation’s announcement regarding the new 10-year fellowship reads as follows:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the crisis of inequality and created new urgency to fix it. The Ford Foundation believes new global leadership is therefore more important than ever to meet these challenges and bring new ideas and energy to solving problems exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic. The Ford Global Fellowship is an investment to build a global network of leaders to fight inequality, is critical at this moment."
For more information on what the Ford Foundation does, as well as this particular fellowship, visit fordfoundation.org.