Health Equity Coalition Statement:
It is with great sadness and care we send this message. As a health equity coalition, we work to not just name systemic racism as it impacts our communities, we work against it and to uproot it. We strive to name that we need to implement anti-racist strategies in our work and in our communities and we endeavor to be a part of the much needed changes in our collective society.
During a global pandemic which has disrupted nearly every aspect of our social lives, racism has not abated. While crime rates have decreased, brutal acts of racism and violent policing are still very much active. Last week alone, millions around the world watched as a Black man in Central Park was accused of threatening a White woman’s life after asking her to leash her dog. Millions also witnessed the public execution of a cuffed and subdued George Floyd by four Minnesota-based police officers. In recent months we have also seen the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of active and former law enforcement.
Over the past several days there have been protests in honor of George Floyd and against police brutality in hundreds of US cities and around the world, including Denver, Colorado. An underlying demand is a call for systems change, to stop the funding of institutions tasked with protecting all while harming Black and Brown communities. While we cannot know the motivations of every participant in these demonstrations, we do believe that the actions we are seeing are the language of the unheard. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We do not condone the destruction that is happening across the United States to businesses and property and we acknowledge the hardship it places on the owners, we do not equate this to the violence of racism, police brutality, and murder at the hands of the police.
For professionals within public health and healthcare, we often face a fine line of personally voicing grievance about these systems causing harm and expectations of silence in professional settings from naming gross injustices fueled by racism. Aside from police brutality, racism and its impacts are compounded by the global crisis of COVID. Rates of contraction and death are higher in Black and Brown communities, and targeted acts of violence and discrimination against individuals with Asian ancestry have been rampant. As uncomfortable and unpleasant as these facts may be, we must not turn our eyes, hearts or actions away. Racism remains a matter of public health, and public health practitioners thus have a professional obligation to stand against it and take action. But more importantly, we must do something in the name of humanity.
Do not use this time to be silent and inactive. Ground yourself in history, understand that this weight has existed and been fought for a long time, this is going to take all of us to make the change we need. Reflect on what James Baldwin shared with the world over 50 years ago as you push to make change today.
Use your voice:
Push against the discomfort you feel and speak about the injustices you and the world are witnessing, advocate for change.
Make calls to city officials to demand change.
Use your position within your health care agency to start a conversation about what changes your agency can make, how to use its power to build an anti-racist community.
Ensure that you are established for voting, and verify that you have set up your mail-in ballot if available.
Do your reading:
Alternative ways to the current method of policing
President Barack Obama shared this strategy
Grassroots Law Project shared this strategy
How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Support Local Black owned Businesses
Donate to Black Lives Matter 5280 or the National Chapter
Donate to the Grassroots Law Project
There are many, many more options.
Join Human Impact Partners this Friday 6/5 for a call to discuss and learn how police violence is a public
Join the Health Equity Coalition at our next meeting Tuesday 6/9 at 5:00pm online to process as a
community and to organize around changes we can make individually and collectively. Information
coming out later this week.
We respectfully offer our words, our thoughts and look forward to engaging in creating change with you.
The leadership team of the Health Equity Coalition:
Robert Franklin, II, Senior Director Ashley Wheeler-Bell, Associate Director Jason Vitello, Health Equity Officer