Sea Mar Community Health Centers vigorously condemns the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police officers and the countless acts of violence against communities of color in the United States. Violence is the antithesis of Sea Mar’s mission, vision and goals. More important, we understand that police brutality against communities of color is not only pervasive, but is a historical legacy of systemic racism. The combination of police violence and the pandemic of COVID-19 further highlights the gross inequities in our society.
The killing of George Floyd continues a pattern of not only police brutality towards the Black community, but also what our communities of color have long understood, that there exists two different systems of justice in the United States based on race. This recent killing is not an aberration but an unfortunate normalized behavior by those sworn to “protect and serve.” This normalization of oppressing people of color has a cascading effect on all of society and it plays out in our daily lives. The impact of white privilege and its use against communities of color in the United States is an excellent example of this menace. The harmful impact of these behaviors drives racism and the inequities throughout our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequities to unbearable levels.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has demonstrated the remarkable inequities of health for communities of color. The stress within these communities due to COVID-19 is unprecedented and with the continued police brutality, these communities face challenges on multiple levels that are the result of centuries of racism and a healthcare system disproportionally underserving marginalized communities. Further, the American Medical Association recently stated, “The disparate racial impact of police violence against Black and Brown people and their communities is insidiously viral-like in its frequency, and also deeply demoralizing, irrespective of race/ethnicity, age, LGBTQ or gender.” Just as racism is a driver of police violence, it is also the catalyst for the inequities of health.
Often not highlighted are the harmful health impacts that result, such as the connection between excessive police activity and health. Research demonstrates that racially marginalized communities are disproportionally subject to police force, and there is a correlation between policing and adverse health outcomes. For example, Black males are three times more likely to be killed during police encounters than their White counterparts are. National data also shows from 2012 that while Latinos made up roughly 18 percent of the population, they accounted for 30 percent of arrests.
The continuation of police violence reveals the deep racial inequities and disparities in our society, especially when it comes to social justice and access to healthcare. As an organization, we will continue to be a vehicle to educate, bring awareness, and find solutions to the on-going violence and disparities we witness. As a society, we must engage in the topic of white supremacy, white privilege and the histories of people of color in the U.S. to participate in these challenging, complex and uncomfortable discussions.
Sea Mar, as an organization founded on the principles of advocacy and social justice, wants to reaffirm our mission of providing community-based healthcare, valuing and respecting all persons, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds. Sea Mar places top priority on advocacy and will continue to be a strong voice for communities of color, working at the local and national levels to demand social justice for all. We invite people of Washington State to exercise the constitutional rights established in the first amendment, energetically but peacefully and with respect of the constitutional rights of others. We stand in solidarity with those calling for social justice and systemic change within law enforcement communities and legislative leadership demanding higher accountability in its interactions, with communities of color.
“Excessive police force is a communal violence that significantly drives unnecessary and costly injury, and premature morbidity and death…”