“A Cry For An End To The Pandemics”
MPHI Staff of Color Affinity Group Statement
While the country occupied itself with PPE and social distancing, a flagrant breach of social distancing resulted
in the death of three important Black lives. As a matter of fact, it was the excessive, brutal, up close and
physical contact that resulted in three murders that were almost overshadowed by the pandemonium of the
COVID-19 pandemic. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor—we state the names of those killed to
honor their humanity. As we grieve these tragic losses, we are aware that the list of names who have been lost
to this deadly pandemic feels endless. To be clear, the pandemic to which we attribute these unpardonable
deaths is racism—and it has been deadly in our country and our world, long before COVID-19.
The racism pandemic has created and sustained systems that have almost guaranteed a disproportionate
burden of disease among black and brown people. It continues to operate with efficiency and exactness.
Racism not race is what contributes to the racialized outcomes we see in our country regarding poverty,
education, economic opportunity, criminal justice and health.
In these and many other cases the descriptions of isolated incidents are presented to explain them away. Just
like we know that isolating ourselves is also not the lone solution to ending COVID-19, minimizing these killings
as isolated events ignores the white supremacist culture that has resulted in the lynching of Black people,
genocide of Native Americans, and all racially motivated killings in this country for centuries. It ignores the
ways in which this culture has been baked into the structure of our society and institutions. Deadly racism is
a painful piece of our United States’ history and its continuing presence is reflected in the enduring pandemic
of racism and anti-blackness across the globe. Yes, “white supremacy” and “anti-blackness.” These are difficult
terms to reconcile; they cause the heart to ache and the mind to numb, much as is the case when being given
a tragic diagnosis or perhaps being told you have COVID-19.
The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are not a coincidence. They are not simply “a
horrible tragedy.” They are not isolated incidents. It will take intentional action to eliminate the deeply rooted
impact of racism in all its forms; institutional, structural, cultural, and interpersonal.
As the Affinity Group for Staff of Color at MPHI, we come to you in unity, as your colleagues, your peers, your
leaders. We come draped in anger, disbelief, frustration, and pain. We come as those who personally carry
the evidence of loss and uncertainty. We come having had close relationships with a dear friend of George
Floyd. We come having been personally confronted with the xenophobia caused by the divisive narrative of
“the Chinese virus”, despite being an American of Asian heritage. We come as spouses of police officers and
mothers of Black men. We come, bringing our full selves to work to sound the alarm at MPHI.
The Cry for Action…
Our MPHI core values are servant leadership, health equity and social justice, authentic relationships, and
quality and excellence. To uphold these values, we cannot remain silent and must respond to the inhumane
treatment of our Black brothers and sisters, and to the racism experienced by Indigenous and people of color.
Let us remember that many of our staff, partners and those we serve are hurting at this time and will continue
to hurt when the headlines subside. In addition to stressors and grief related to COVID-19, we are now also
faced with collective trauma from the egregious murders of Black lives in recent weeks. The cumulative stress
of ongoing experiences of racism has proven detrimental to mental and physical health. Although cell phone
videos and social media are bringing attention to these horrific killings of Black people like never before, the
experience of blatant racism and oppression for Black and other people of color predates it being brought to
light via modern technology. Let us uplift each other and give each other grace to process, grieve and address
this trauma in our own ways.
When the marches cease and when we are in the post-COVID-19 era our commitment to action for racial
equity will remain. Collectively, we must continue our work to address racism and inequities at the individual,
interpersonal, and institutional level at MPHI and throughout our society. Undoing racism and anti-Blackness
must be all of our work as we commit to dismantling the systemic racism and white dominant culture that is
embedded in the foundation of our US institutions. It is time to deconstruct and rebuild!