“Recent events have again brought to light systemic racism in our law enforcement institutions, but we know it exists in other systems as well. We cannot pretend that these realities that our neighbors of color experience in their daily lives are based on individual choices but rather we must confront the reality that our systems have been set up to get exactly the results we are seeing. This is the time to talk about the root causes for the health inequities among contracting and dying from the disease at a much higher rate than whites. It is about the disparities that children of color face, being removed from their families and placed into foster care at a disproportionate rate and being sent to prison at higher rates as well. It is about the inequities in access to quality education among low-income and African American communities that leave too many children behind.
Systemic racism and implicit bias are infused in too many of our systems that are supposed to ensure all people have access to educational success, quality healthcare, food security, housing, socioeconomic mobility, reduced stress and so much more. The science is clear, the answers are in the social determinants of health which are the social determinants of life. Together they create the context in which we live our daily lives and create the building blocks which should be there for all people to reach their fullest potential regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or their socioeconomic standing.
…We have both an opportunity and mandate to reimagine all of our systems in the context of equity, diversity, and inclusion with an understanding of these social determinants to better serve all Americans, regardless of race. This includes re-imagining and re-aligning our systems to ensure that both policy and practice across education, criminal justice, health care, housing, and economic systems is just, fair, and inclusive for everyone to fully contribute to their communities.
Because community-based human services organizations work at the nexus of families, communities, and the public and private systems that interface in their lives, we know that this national conversation starts by acknowledging the systemic inequities that serve as real and significant barriers to people and communities working to reach their full potential. We must value and engage all voices in these conversations as well as the voices of lived experience to truly bring about the change we all desire.
This isn’t a problem we can solve overnight. But we have to start by loving one another more, seeing the humanity and value of every human being and being courageous enough to engage in a dialogue with all Americans about the root causes of the insidious racism and bias in our society. That starts with a commitment to speak out against any examples of racism or bias that have for too long traumatized too many individuals, families, and communities. Let’s speak out, come together, and bring about the systemic changes that will be necessary to ensure diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity are at the heart of our communities, our systems, and our nation as a whole. We all do well when we all do well.”
Windwood Family Services is part of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. We strongly endorse this statement. We are all in this together.
Debbie McKelvey, Executive Director