My mornings have become a routine that I can’t wait to change. I wake up; I read the headlines; the news is threatening and I put on my armor. It’s heavy because its fibers are intertwined with my history as an immigrant, political exile, woman of color, lesbian, and activist in this country; my armor is also solid because its frame is made up by a history of resistance from people of the Americas and the African diaspora. I need this protection, as the man with five working fingers keeps signing executive orders that promote the criminalization of communities of color; is tearing apart immigrant children from their parents; and taking away our civil liberties. We’ve always had to fight for our communities to address the ongoing struggles with chronic disease, violence, homelessness, and countless other systemic issues. Today, however, it’s different. It’s blatant.
What’s the common denominator in all this destruction? Race, seems the obvious response.
Mounting research suggests that even when we are not talking about race, we are thinking about it. And if we disaggregate data based on race, the impact of racism and racial discrimination becomes starkly visible and you would think, hard to argue. Nonetheless, I find myself having these conversations about the lack of attention being given to race as we analyze public health issues and are working to find ways to address solutions. In these challenging days and years to come, we are being called to think and operate as a collective armor. For this, we all need to know that success can only happen when we can collectively see it for what it is: race matters because society engages in racism and racial discrimination affects our health outcomes and access to resources. Where do we start? I would suggest, by looking at our own negative implicit attitudes about race so that they are not left unchallenged and we take away its power.
Chief Executive Officer
Community Health Council