To look around the United States today is enough to make prophets and angels weep. This is not the land of the free; it is only very unwillingly and sporadically the home of the brave.
— James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro
At HIP, our hearts and bodies feel collective grief and rage for the stolen lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade. Our grief and rage only builds upon the never-healed losses of Oscar Grant, Alex Nieto, Sandra Bland, and untold others who have been killed by the police.
What can be said in this moment that has not been said before? Perhaps that our human capacity for endurance — in the face of brutal and ongoing injustice and racism — is not without limits. Indeed, communities are putting their lives and well-being on the line in the face of tear gas, batons, and bullets — and as a global pandemic looms over us all — to say, yet again, that Black Lives Matter. We are inspired and nourished by the displays of humanity and power. We see and hear you.
As we check on our loved ones and find ways to partake in protests happening across the country, we appreciate hearing the perspective of our own Martha Ockenfels-Martinez, who is from Minneapolis: “My city has been burning for a week. But my people are strong and have created beautiful community protection and community fire squads since the police have done nothing. And now the police violence that’s always existed is on camera across the country, as other cities stand up.”
“Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.”
— Mariame Kaba, anti-prison activist and educator
There is no question: structural racism and police violence are deeply intertwined, and both are root drivers of health inequities. As public health practitioners, we are committed to uprooting these root causes — by listening to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and joining together as part of the social movements that drive social change.
As you assess your individual and organizational capacity to stand up for a different world, here are some resources to push your thinking and action:
- Sign the Black Lives Matter Network petition to #DefundThePolice.
- Watch this 6-minute video on invest/divest strategies from Law for Black Lives.
- Plug into community organizing, calling on your local elected officials to defund police in the name of health. Here’s our take on why we need to work with community organizers to advance equity.
- Participate in the Movement for Black Lives’ Week of Action in Defense of Black Lives.
- Donate to your local bail fund to support the protestors.
- Read: “Building Community Safety: Practical Steps Toward Liberatory Transformation,” by Ejeris Dixon
- Read: Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue, American Public Health policy statement
- Read: Resources to Challenge Policing and Incarceration as Part of a COVID-19 Response, by Human Impact Partners with End Police Violence Collective and Community Justice Exchange
In love and solidarity,
The Human Impact Partners Team