More than 1200 employees of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have written its director, Robert Redfield, protesting a “toxic culture of exclusion and racial discrimination” at the 11,000-employee public health agency and demanding immediate action. The 30 June letter was first reported by National Public Radio, which published it in its entirety here.
“We are hurt. We are angry. We are exhausted,” the letter begins. “And ultimately, we fear that, despite the global protests, little will be done to address the systemic racism we face each and every day.”
The writers, all CDC employees, make seven demands of the agency, including increasing Black representation among senior leaders and resolving pending Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints. “Black CDC employees have filed hundreds of [EEO] grievances and complaints over the past decade only to be met by inaction or, worse, retaliation. Current EEO practices are designed to protect the agency,” they write.
An agency spokesperson emailed The New York Times, writing: “Dr. Redfield received the letter and responded,” without elaborating on what he said. “CDC is committed to fostering a fair, equitable, and inclusive environment in which staff can openly share their concerns with agency leadership.”
The letter writers’ first demand was that CDC declare racism a public health crisis in the United States. The Times last week published data that it sued CDC to obtain, showing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latino people in the United States.