As the world absorbs the impact of COVID-19, the US wakes up after yet another night of protests in dozens of cities, fueled by anger over the mistreatment of Black Americans at the hands of police. Thousands are marching to protest the murder of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, by a White police officer.
Americans want to see change for the better in how our communities of color are policed. Americans hate the idea that police are predatory. For too many of our colleagues, this is their reality.
Video after video on social media has shown unarmed Black, Latino and Native Americans—men, women, and transgender people—being brutalized by police. Countless such incidents occur without notice or repercussion, leaving friends, partners, neighbors, classmates and colleagues to deal with the pain, trauma and loss. All of this impacts many of us in the PSI family, both emotionally and psychologically.
The rate at which Black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for White Americans. America’s racist past and present are an object of study and debate for some of us – but a reason for fear and risk for others of us. This pain is intense, and George Floyd’s death simply brought it to wider attention.
Systemic racism is built into the fabric of many American institutions in addition to policing and structures of power. The healthcare system disproportionately fails Black and Brown communities; they are disproportionately being infected and killed by COVID-19.
As a global health organization, we know that inequity, discrimination, racism and violence directed at any community are all social determinants of poor health. They result in deadly circumstances, whether in the 50 formerly colonized countries where we work or here in the US. We’ve committed to doing what is different and difficult for change in those countries. We commit to doing it here for our employees as well.
America needs change. And it’s up to ALL of us, especially non-Black folks, to show up and be actively anti-racist. We must take the uncomfortable steps within our respective contexts and capabilities to combat injustice and bigotry.
Everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. America’s promise remains dangerously, agonizingly and sometimes murderously unfulfilled. We need better.
This we acknowledge.
We stand in solidarity.
We choose to speak out.
June 2, 2020