The senseless murder of George Floyd exposed how far we still need to go in our long and painful reckoning with racism, but today justice was served. We have much work ahead in fixing the inequities that have long plagued the Black community in our justice system, our schools, health care, housing, prisons and remain deeply embedded in American everyday life. At this inflection point in our national consciousness on race, we reflect on the origins of Community Health Centers and its deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement.
“Of all the injuries inflicted by racism on people of color, the most corrosive is the wound within, the internalized racism that leads some victims, at unspeakable cost to their own sense of self, to embrace the values of their oppressors.”H. Jack Geiger, MD, co-founder of the Community Health Center Movement
Our work to heal wounds, to engage in difficult conversations about race and prejudice, to fight for equity in places where we live, work, vote, learn and shop begins now. We know, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated, that racism is a public health threat. We have seen it in the glaring health divide of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which Black people are among the minority groups who have suffered higher rates of infection and death. We have seen the effects of racism beyond the walls of health centers, in neighborhoods, schools, the workplace, places of worship and an ordinary traffic stop. For so long as humanity ignores oppression and discrimination, and normalizes what we now understand to be systemic racism, we cause ourselves and future generations irreparable harm.
Let us go forward with a new vision and urgency to boldly change what we know to be wrong. Let us speak out, make changes within the walls of our hearts and in the halls of power, and vanquish all forms of discrimination.