Daily Archives: June 6, 2020
The Women’s March
The March against Gun Violence
The MeToo Movement
The Climate Change Movement
Corona Virus Pandemic
Black Lives Matter
All of this has been brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness in the last three and a half years. And always, betwixt and between, acts of racism, the images of brutality by both police and civilians interspersed with all these other subjects of community concern. But this racism, by far, is the ugliest; the violence we see against Black and Brown people on our news casts and news feeds is the result of systemic, inherent racism that has been a part of the American experiment for over 400 years.
On the American Public Health Association’s website, racism is defined as such: “ (r)acism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.” — APHA Past-President Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD
‘Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, like we do!’
Admonishments that imply laziness and idleness – what if you have no bootstraps? What if your bootstraps were removed long before your birth? Your parents have none, and they are rare in your community. Equal opportunity becomes a myth.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, we must recognize that children raised in African American, Hispanic, and American Indian homes face higher risks of parental unemployment and to reside in families with significantly lower household net income relative to white children in the United States, which create barriers to equal opportunities and services designed for health and vocational results . “The social environment in which children are raised shapes child and adolescent development, and pediatricians are poised to prevent and respond to environmental circumstances that undermine child health.”
“Racism is a public health issue. The AAP condemns violence, especially when perpetrated by authorities, and calls for a deep examination of how to improve the role of policing. Systemic violence requires systemic response.”
From Timothy Peoples at Baptist News:
“I had a flashback to first grade, to the first time my mother gave me The Talk. Every black mother has given this talk to her son; it’s pretty much universal in black households in the United States. It begins – at least in my experience and in that of others in my family – with the mother discerning whether her son is ready for this news because she knows this just might shatter his world.
“My mother got down on my level, kissed me on the cheek and with tears in her eyes said, “Baby, you are a black boy in a white man’s world.” She was very intentional about her choice of words: boy versus man.”
There is a stressor inherent in living with Black or Brown skin that is unique; just living with the stressor causes health inequities – no matter if the exposure to police violence was personal or not. Just waiting for that hammer to drop, anywhere, anytime.
From the American Medical Association:
“Research demonstrates that racially marginalized communities are disproportionally subject to police force, and there is a correlation between policing and adverse health outcomes.”
The higher frequency of police encounters is linked to elevated stress and anxiety levels, along with increased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma—and their fatal complications.
It is widely understood in medicine and public health that structural racism manifests in unequal access to opportunities, resources, conditions, and power within their respective systems.
“AMA policy recognizes that physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public, particularly among Black and Brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, is a critical determinant of health and supports research into the public health consequences of these violent interactions.”
In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes, in part:
“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”
How do we all care, support, and work with each other and our community to disrupt the racism in our culture eliminating health and wealth disparities, institutional racism, and inherent racial bias? What role can our libraries play to help our communities heal, grow, and develop? We ensure information and enhance learning, for all. We stand with the members of our communities that face prejudice, violence, and death, based on their race/ethnicity or gender. These acts degrade our institutions and destroys our communities.
The American Library Association unequivocally condemns racism and endorses recent statements by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (PDF).
President Barack Obama writes on Medium and published on his own website:
How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change
“Let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves,” former President Barack Obama wrote.
“The bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.”
New Era of Public Safety: An Advocacy Toolkit for Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing
An initiative of the Policing Campaign at the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
In Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (a very appropriate read at this time, on so many levels), he borrows the phrase Tipping Point from epidemiology (the study of epidemics) to describe the moment an idea or a social movement has reached critical mass – the right number of people, with the right message, in the right context. He writes that we intuitively think that the transactions going into relationships or systems are linear, a product of cause and effect (one for one, two for two, etc.), “(t)o appreciate the power of [social] epidemics, we have to abandon this expectation of proportionality. We need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that sometimes big changes follow from small events, and changes can happen quickly.”
We can only hope so.
Put The Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell on hold here, and keep an eye on our recommended summer reading lists for more inclusive and educational literature selections.
For further reading, see our books addressing racism and discrimination in our Children’s Collection at Williamson County Public Library: