Inequity Makes Us Sick: A Post-2016 Election Message

Good afternoon ABFE;

California Newsreel produces stellar documentaries on race and racism in the United States. One of their films, titled Unnatural Causes, Is Inequality Making Us Sick? comes to mind this morning. It expertly provides evidence that links racism, classism and oppression to poor health outcomes, life expectancy, etc.   In essence, the film helps us understand that these issues can lead to illness and disease even more than genetics or personal behavior.

This matters this morning because so many of us are not well right now. The election proved what we already understood to be true — racism is alive and well; classism is too and can result in poor whites voting against their own interest.  And all of this affects our health and well-being – all of us pay a price. To those of you who are starting your work day in environments that are not focused on dismantling oppression, take special care today of your minds, hearts and bodies.

Jumping right back into the work is one way to deal with grief – grief over the loss of a loved one or, as in this case, the loss of hope. So that is what I will do this morning. But I want to challenge those of us in the foundation field – if you are in an environment that does not understand and challenge the notions of anti-Black racism and oppression in all of its forms, lead those conversations to help the institution get on course. But if you have tried to do so to no end, leave.  Leave to further build and strengthen our own, Black-led institutions that need your brilliance, urgency and passion. Our institutions need us now more than ever.  While it is not the “traditional” message I share given our concerns about diversity in foundations, it is what my spirit tells me to say today.  Your health and well-being and that of our community and this nation depends on it.