Trigger Warning // Police Violence // Racial Violence
As a Black woman, my heart raced as I witnessed the breath get squeezed out of George Floyd in an all too familiar scene of system-enabled brutality against Black men. Yet, we know that systemic racism isn’t limited to police departments — it is hardwired into our economic, political, and judicial systems. It’s in our institutions, including our health care system. No institution in America, including we at Planned Parenthood, has avoided tangling with the vestiges of racism. Dismantling it begins with acknowledging its existence, and then taking actions to eliminate it, and the impact on the people it targets.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio stand with Black people and others across Ohio and the rest of the United States who have taken to the streets over the past week to protest the murder of George Floyd and to speak out against the violence perpetrated by police departments around the country.
Over this week we watched peaceful protesters face pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets for demanding change that is long overdue for Black people in America. In my lifetime, this is not new. In a time before social media, I remember 1961 and the beatings of the Freedom Riders. In 1968 it was the civil disobedience after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1992, Los Angeles exploded in response to the acquittal of the four brutal police officers who beat Rodney King to within an inch of his life.
People of conscience who respect human dignity should not and cannot stand on the sidelines. We have a responsibility to demand justice for Mr. Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black and Brown people who have been brutalized and murdered at the hands of police.
We cannot stop at calling out violent racism that has gone viral — we need to take the risks that include changing power structures in our own organizations, and in the public and private systems that discriminate against Black people.
I know that Black Lives Matter! Like 48 million Black Americans I live and understand the trauma of being Black in America. I know this country can do better. I challenge this country to do better. I commit to using our Planned Parenthood resources to serve our Ohio patients — who are Black, Brown and White. They mostly live in areas that are medically underserved and struggle financially near the federal poverty level. They seek and we give them non-judgmental care and protect their right to autonomy over their bodies.
This work is a journey that we must go on together if we want meaningful and lasting change. We offer the following resources to you, if you are looking for ways to engage in this moment by learning, listening, or seeking change. For education on anti-racism, here are some resources. If you’re able, please donate to these local resources that are assisting people who demand change: Columbus Freedom Fund, Cleveland Black Lives Matter, Cincinnati Bail-Out Fund, Dayton Racial Injustice Fund, Canton/Akron Bail Fund, and the Toledo Community Solidarity Response Network.
The struggle continues,
Iris E. Harvey
President & CEO
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio & Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio