10-30-2020 Feature Story:
The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (the League) strenuously opposes the White House's September 22nd Executive Order prohibiting the federal government and federal grantees from carrying out trainings that address systemic racism and bias in the workplace. The Order also bans the use of such terms as "critical race theory," "white privilege," "intersectionality," and "unconscious bias" -- all of which are vital to a discourse that promotes understanding and racial equity.
Such a directive runs counter to the Civil Rights origins of the Community Health Center Movement, a movement rooted in the mission to eliminate barriers that exclude communities of color and lower-income patients from receiving quality, accessible, and comprehensive health care. These pre-existing disparities have been thrown into stark relief during the current coronavirus pandemic; communities of color face disproportionately higher infection rates and their cases are worsened by underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Community health centers have long acknowledged that racism - both blatant and subtle - drives these disparities and if not addressed in a vigorous and sustained way, will continue to produce higher rates of infant mortality and chronic illness, including cancer, depression and trauma in the communities we serve. The recognition that the daily indignities endured by people of color at work or school, in trying to rent an apartment or buy a house, or in interactions with police, extend well beyond the walls of our health centers, and underpin the need to confront injustice wherever it exists.
We urge the White House to withdraw this Order which thwarts open, robust, and honest dialogue that will lead to further exploration and understanding about how to address racism, discrimination, and unconscious bias that plague both the health care arena and American society at large. These are not "divisive concepts" as the order states; rather, they are essential to upholding the spirit of our nation's constitution and support the "diversity and inclusion efforts consistent with principles of fair and equal treatment" that the Administration itself has laid out amid a national reckoning of racial injustice that has been propagated across centuries.
The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers reaffirms our deep commitment to equity and the protection of all from discrimination regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious practice, or national origin.
James W. Hunt, Jr., President & CEO