“Race is a leading social determinant of health in the United States and worldwide, and thus health equity is inextricably tied to racial justice.”
We wrote the above as part of a statement on how Global Health Equity Requires Racial Justice in June 2016, when the U.S. erupted in public showings of grief and calls to action following the violent, unjust deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and so many others before them.
Fast forward to today, four years later: too little has changed. We are in the midst of a monumental health crisis that is illuminating the depths of systemic racism in the U.S. COVID-19 is infecting and killing black and brown Americans at far higher rates than white Americans. At the same time, the police in the U.S. continue to target and kill black people — most recently George Floyd — robbing them of their dignity and their lives.
These dynamics are inextricably linked. The threat of state-sanctioned violence and other dangerous manifestations of racism that black people in America must live with produces toxic trauma that poses serious health dangers through a process referred to as weathering. Black Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans to have underlying conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure. While black Americans have lower rates of being insured and accessing quality healthcare than their white counterparts, when they do find themselves in hospitals or doctors offices, they often receive subpar treatment solely because of their skin color.
Black lives matter. The lives of our community members who are black matter.
We must ask ourselves: Why are police officers armed with a wealth of gear and weapons, even as essential workers — who are disproportionately people of color — lack protective gear? And even as the poor working class — again, who are disproportionately people of color — face dire threats to their wellbeing and livelihoods?
As a leadership development organization committed to realizing health as a human right for all human beings worldwide, we unequivocally condemn police violence, racism, neocolonialism, and white supremacy in all its forms. We are grateful for our diverse, vocal community who relentlessly pursue an equitable world and challenge each other in that process where necessary.
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” -Angela Davis, American activist, author, and political organizer
We affirm our commitment to doing the hard, important work of social justice in its many forms, including owning our privilege, fostering inclusion and amplifying unheard voices, allocating resources equitably, and eradicating violence. We envision and will continue to work towards a healthier, more just world for all because none of us are free until all of us are free.
Global Health Corps (GHC) is a leadership development organization building the next generation of health equity leaders around the world. All GHC fellows, partners, and supporters are united in a common belief: health is a human right. There is a role for everyone in the movement for health equity. To learn more, visit our website and connect with us on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook.