|Statement from Patricia Baker, president and CEO, Connecticut Health Foundation
Like many of you, I have struggled with a deep sense of anger, frustration, and sadness in the days following the death of George Floyd – just the latest in a series of horrifying and unjust killings of black Americans at the hands of police.
At times like this it can feel easy to despair. There have been so many of these terrible killings that have led me to think, “Isn’t this enough? When will something change?” Yet we continue to see the deadly consequences of the racism that underlies our society.
Racism takes many forms. While many people immediately recognize when racism occurs in interpersonal situations, it also occurs on deeper levels that affect all of us. Many of the structures and systems in our society have roots in policies that discriminated by race and now produce unequal outcomes. Even if you do not subscribe to racist views and commit interpersonal racism, many of us still benefit from the effects of systemic racism and the advantages it confers to white people.
As a foundation, we focus on health – a field in which the effects of racism are clear in the stark disparities that exist. On average, black and Hispanic Connecticut residents live in poorer health than white residents, and black residents die younger. These disparities reflect different levels of access to resources including health insurance, a regular doctor, stable housing, nutritious food, transportation, income, as well as to the effects of more direct forms of racism – unequal treatment within medicine and the psychological and physiological effects of living with the stress of discrimination.
It would be a mistake to view the health effects of racism as separate from the ways racial injustice affects nearly every other sector – including education, housing, employment, and the justice system. The racial disparities we see in nearly every part of society are not accidents, nor are they because there is any fundamental difference between people of different races or ethnicity. They are the result of racist systems that privilege white people and impose burden after burden on people of color.
We must do better. We cannot accept this. We must demand change.
All of us come to this conversation from a different starting point. For many, there is value in furthering our own education on the roots and impact of racism and how we can actively fight against it. Here are three resources that can be helpful starting points:
As a foundation, we grieve and acknowledge the deep injustice and loss. We stand with the black community and will not waver in our resolve to fight racial injustice and build a better, healthier Connecticut.
Patricia Baker, President and CEO