NWRPCA Addressing Racism
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Northwest Regional Primary Care Association’s Commitment

To Eliminating Racial Injustice & Promoting Health Equity - June 2020

 

NWRPCA shares our nation’s outrage and grief over the tragic killings in recent weeks of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, among other Black people killed by police. They are not the first, and sadly there have already been others since. These deaths have further exposed deep-seated systemic racism and injustice toward Black Americans and other communities of color in the U.S., as has the COVID-19 pandemic; an unacceptably disproportionate share of the over 100,000 COVID-related deaths to date have been among Blacks and other communities of color. The issue of systemic racism extends far beyond treatment by the police.  As an organization focused on improving community health, we recognize that racism is a public health issue.

 

NWRPCA stands firmly with those fighting for justice and equity. Throughout their lives, many of the health center patients in the Northwest have often been on the receiving end of racism and discrimination simply because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, income level, immigration, or insurance status. We recognize that the long history of racism and violence against the Black community and other people of color drives inequities in health care and other areas of public health and safety. Health equity means every person has the opportunity to achieve their highest level of health. While this begins with timely, necessary health services available to all, it doesn’t end there. It also means access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing. It means access to employment and entrepreneurial activities that support a good life and a family, if desired. It means access to affordable, healthy food and opportunities for rest and relaxation. It also means freedom from injustice, prejudice, and discrimination. These are essential ingredients for health. 
 
Community Health Centers’ origins are rooted in the Civil Rights and social justice movement of the 1960s and this broader vision of health equity. Community health centers were and are created for, and by, the communities they serve. From the start, the founders of the movement here in the NW and across the country championed opportunities for community members to advance educational skills, create meaningful jobs, develop businesses, and promote self-determination in the face of economic and social injustice. In the words of one of those founders, Dr. Jack Geiger, “A community health center can serve as an agent of social change, intervening not only in the social determinants of its population’s health but also launching a process of structural change that starts to liberate that population through community empowerment from repetitive cycles of poverty and political exclusion.”  

Now is the time for us to revitalize our original vision as a movement. These tragic events clearly show that we have a long way still to go as a nation and that we must do more if we are to achieve this vision. NWRPCA is committed to collectively working with health centers and communities in our region and our various partners nationwide in constructive and meaningful ways to advance this agenda. We call on both our elected leaders to take meaningful action and on ourselves, as individuals and representatives of health care organizations, to recognize our share of blame for current institutional racism and related health disparities and to rededicate ourselves to examining and refining our role in advancing racial equity both internally and as a partner in collaboration with health centers, policymakers, and partners. Perhaps most importantly, we also recommit to pursuing a holistic approach to social change, including consistently and aggressively advocating for public policies that reflect the true needs and priorities of a country in crisis. 

 

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