HEP statement on the second public health crisis: Racism

June 3, 2020

The Healthcare Education Project was created by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the hospitals of New York to promote and protect access to high-quality, affordable healthcare for all New Yorkers. Over the last four months, we have been working with our sponsors to help them in their heroic response to the unprecedented COVID-19 healthcare crisis.

Our work during the pandemic reinforced a tragic truth: communities of color have been much harder hit by the disease than other communities. The reasons for this are many, including social and economic disadvantage, the prevalence of underlying health conditions, and poorer access to healthcare. The killing of George Floyd, however, reminds us that racism still permeates our society and is the reason disparities persist.

Structural racism within our educational system, the job market, and access to healthcare has created systemic oppression and lack of opportunity that has kept people of color, particularly black people, behind. It creates a lack of trust between government authorities, including law enforcement, and the communities they serve. Racism’s physiological and psychological effects unquestionably add to the poorer health of many minority communities and deepen the disparities we seek to overcome.

All Americans—not just the peaceful protesters in the streets—must speak out and take action against this particular public health crisis. Just as in the COVID-19 crisis, we at the Healthcare Education Project are committed to helping those communities in need of resources to address this public health crisis and support the “frontline” organizations and individual activists that are speaking out and taking action against racism. The disease of racism saps the strength of the whole society. Like all public health crises,we must all respond if we are going to end it.

Kirk Adams

David Collymore

Jennifer Clarke-Craig

Sara Couch Walden

Marcelle Dinnall

Quintara Jean
Asim Johnson

LaToya Jones

Jocelyn LeBron

Jenny Palaguachi

Anita Palathingal

Julia Rentas

Cruz S. Torres Cano

Luis Valenzuela

Colin Wolfgang