But really, #BlackLivesMatter.

But really, #BlackLivesMatter.

#BlackLivesMatter.  Yes, all lives matter, but really, #BlackLivesMatter.  Because white Americans have not been subject to the institutional racism that was mixed into the mortar that holds together the bricks of our country’s foundation.  Because being white means we have the luxury of avoiding long-term health effects of the toxic stress caused by institutional racism.

By saying #AllLivesMatter, we diminish our neighbors of colors’ lived experience. This experience makes it necessary for parents of color to teach their sons not to wear hooded sweatshirts at night. Parents of color worry that their child may not receive the same medical treatment as the fair-skinned girl next to them in a waiting room.  Concerns for their children are underpinned by their justified worries that their children they might not be able to get a job they are qualified for because of their skin color, natural hair texture, or accent.

I am consumed with sadness that we must again ask the question  asked in response to the Orlando shooting.  What venue, what shooter, what motive will finally shine the light on the root of all these devastating stories?  What will it take for our elected leaders to acknowledge and begin a meaningful narrative on the role privilege and oppression has played in this sadness and how we can fix our systems to impact change.

We can point fingers and pass judgment and blame. We can mourn the police officers killed in Dallas, but still be outraged at the larger narrative of the story.

Validated research shows that privilege and oppression manifests itself everywhere - in our hospitals, our schools, our social programs. How many more black men will worry about getting out of a traffic stop alive, compared to a white man worrying about how he will avoid getting a ticket?  How many children of color will be administered inadequate pain medication because of their doctors' implicit biases? How many more teens of color will end up in a stereotypical downward spiral because of the impact their families' skin color has had on their parents' ability to get an education, get a job, get safe housing? Enough is enough.

In the words of Minnesotan blogger Ryan Williams-Virden, "we need to… stand up and demand fundamental, radical, structural changes. To fail to do this is to betray humanity, it is to betray ourselves.”  The NH Public Health Association is working to achieve optimal health and equity for ALL NH residents, and urges strong leadership from our elected officials to guide peaceful action to begin to unravel the policies and systems that damage the health, lives, and souls of so many Americans.

Submitted by Katie Robert
NH Public Health Association
Board President

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