We are experiencing and witnessing challenging times. As we write this, the world is processing the tragic events that have taken place in the US: unjust killings of African-Americans, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have spurred demonstrations and demands for justice.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging humanity and has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Viruses don’t discriminate, but societies do; the pandemic has disproportionately affected marginalized communities around the world. And we know that women – especially women from these communities – are facing a greater burden.
As global health professionals working towards equity, we understand it’s our responsibility to acknowledge, understand and address injustice. Racism is a global health issue. The rates of premature deaths are more than 1.3 times higher for Black non-Hispanic in comparison to white non-Hispanic populations. For women’s health, the disparities are even worse: pregnancy-related death rates for Black and native American women is four to five timesas high as it is for white women.
Together we must work to unmask the centuries-long racial divides that have shaped US and global systems. In doing so, we must center, elevate and amplify the voices of Black women in global and public health to address systemic, structural racism that negatively impacts Black health and economic outcomes.
Moreover, we must join our brothers and sisters in action to end the injustices and violence that marginalized groups have faced for centuries; we must call for the end of all forms of oppression.
Discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, caste, religion, sexuality, disability and much more are deeply entrenched social injustices. Peaceful protests are cornerstones of civil liberties and democracy and are the tools marginalized communities can use to affect change; we must all use our platforms to protect them.
And as advocates for justice and equity, we must hear the cries and anguish of people around the world and stand in solidarity to state once and for all: Black lives matter.
We ask that you join us by:
Seeking knowledge: remain informed about the structural injustices that have led to this moment, and actively seek new knowledge
Being engaged: join efforts to organize and mobilize for change
Having hard conversations: discuss diversity, with the goal of creating cultures that retain and promote underrepresented groups, especially African-Americans; in the workplace in particular, take a stand for representation and equity – including fair pay
Choosing under-represented candidates: if you’re in a position of power, make an effort to include Black voices in decision-making, and empowering these groups to lead
Funding the movement: where you can, buy from, donate to, and encourage financial support of Black women-led movements and organizations
Taking action: there are many steps you can take today to begin to have an impact; do what you can, now
We are all in this pandemic together. We are all in this world together. We must use this as an inflection point - in our global movement and in society – to move toward true and lasting equity, for everyone.
Yours in resistance,
Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director
Sarah Hillware, Deputy Director
Katie Gorham, Communications and Advocacy Director