These are dark times. And my heart is heavy. But I can’t stay silent.
Racism exists. We saw the video of George Floyd being brutally murdered in broad daylight. We know what happened because it was recorded. I can’t help but think what goes on when no one is watching. This violence against black communities isn't new – it’s deeply rooted in our structures and systems currently in place. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the lives that were taken unjustly deserve justice. My heart is with the families, friends, and communities of those in pain.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this level of hate; it’s been going on in our country for far too long. No person should ever fear for their life or feel less valued because of the color of their skin. We are living in an America where black and brown people have been treated unjustly. And while I’ll never know how it feels to be a person of color, I’ve been on a journey to better understand my privilege.
My journey of discovery started by seeing the injustices in our health care system when I joined Planned Parenthood 30 years ago. That's why I'm so committed to the work we do every day to bring quality and non-judgmental care to communities that need it most. Institutional racism is deeply rooted in the health care structure. From higher rates of maternal deaths among black women to undiagnosed cervical cancer among Latina women to COVID-19 having a higher impact on black and brown communities, it's our responsibility as an intersectional organization to confront these biases head-on. We are on the right path, but we need to do more and stretch further to create real systematic change.
One way to do this is by educating ourselves and speaking out about the injustices we see. Here are just a few of the articles, books, and shows that have guided me on my path of discovery and learning recently:
- Former President Barack Obama, How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change
- The New York Times Magazine (Jose Antonio Vargas), My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant
- Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Patricia Hill Collins). A book that explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe.
- 13th (Netflix). A documentary that discusses intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.
- When They See Us (Netflix). A miniseries about the infamous Central Park case, where five young African-American teenagers were wrongfully convicted and sent to jail for a crime they did not commit.
For a more extensive list, I suggest the anti-racism resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES.
I hope you will join me on this journey of confronting biases that exist and to be part of the solution. I’m taking part in the #blackouttuesday social media movement today, and vow to listen, learn, and then take action. Please share your resources, stories and thoughts with me – I’m ready to listen with an open heart. This process takes work and is uncomfortable at times, but it’s what we must do to move forward towards a better tomorrow. Being complacent and looking away isn’t an option anymore. Each of us needs to do our part to create a more equitable system that works for all Americans.