I am overwhelmed with emotion as I watch the consequences of racism unravel on our streets and across the country. Police brutality and the senseless deaths of George Floyd, our own Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others are disgusting and appalling. Racism is a public health crisis crippling our society.
In 1967, my father was taken from my family at the hands of police brutality. Unfortunately, many families in the black community have similar experiences and stories. The protests are the result of frustration and anger and should act as a wake-up call to America that systemic racism is not working. It’s time to change racist practices, policies and more importantly behaviors.
Actor George Clooney said it best in an editorial for the HuffPost: “racism is our pandemic and in 400 years we’ve yet to find a vaccine.” Shame on us.
As CEO of CareSTL Health and a lifelong resident of North St. Louis, I will continue to fight racial and health inequity along with our Board of Directors, leadership team and staff. We did so when our communities were overlooked for COVID-19 testing. I am finalizing plans to build new, state-of-the-art health centers. CareSTL Health will push forward in our work to rebuild North St. Louis. We will develop affordable housing and senior living in the neighborhoods we serve. In doing so, we will strengthen the economic base and create employment opportunities for residents in those communities.
The current racial unrest and COVID-19 pandemic should be a signal to the white community that this is not a black or brown problem. It is a people issue infecting us all. We must come together to dismantle racist policies and inequities to improve the health and economic opportunities for the black community. The trajectory must be reversed for healthy outcomes to exist.
All of us at CareSTL Health will do our part to improve the racial and health inequities confronting our communities.
Angela Claybon is CEO of CareSTL Health.