Statement on Racial Injustice

 
STATEMENT FROM HEALTHY WALTHAM IN THIS DIFFICULT TIME

Friends,

As an organization dedicated to promoting the wellbeing and affirming the dignity of all members of our community, we feel it necessary to respond to the events that are gripping our nation.

Over the past few months, our country has experienced an unprecedented public health crisis with the novel coronavirus, which in turn sparked a devastating economic decline. These events have disproportionately impacted the vulnerable populations already served by Healthy Waltham: families with young children, recent immigrants, the elderly, and those suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, often the “essential workers” who experience far greater exposure to the virus as they do their jobs each day. Since the onset of this situation, Healthy Waltham has stepped up to meet the increasing need to feed the Waltham community­–a need so severe that since April 1st, our monthly food pantries have become practically weekly, as we work to provide access to fresh food and produce to those facing food insecurity.

And now our nation is ablaze with an underlying truth known all too well to our black and brown families. With the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently, George Floyd, members of the black community and those allied in the fight for racial justice are feeling a range of emotions. The coronavirus outbreak has laid bare the staggering inequities in our country. Black and brown communities have borne the brunt of both the virus and its economic impact. The killing of George Floyd offers yet another stark reminder that black Americans are subject to a different set of rules and that the societal systems and structures designed to support and protect its citizens often exclude the black community.

As a woman of color, my family and I have personally experienced racism and, as Haitians, we have experienced cultural bias. This moment, therefore, is affecting me in a profound way, both personally and professionally. I am raising my hand to say, in the experience of our nation’s past and certainly its present, we must be better.

At this troubled time in our history, we recognize that you may feel many emotions–despair, hopelessness, anger, numbness. We encourage you to take time for yourself, to understand and accept your feelings, to sit with them, meditate on them and try as best you can to process them. We also encourage those who are struggling to cope to seek help. Our ally organizations such as Waltham Partnership for Youth , Newton Wellesley Hospital, and CHNA 17 have collected a series of materials that we wanted to share:

Education:

Boston College Lynch School – Racial Trauma Toolkit

Mental Health Treatment:

While our country feels so hopelessly fractured, we urge solidarity with our community. We are all human. It’s time to exercise our collective humanity, to practice empathy and compassion. Healthy Waltham will continue its mission to serve those most in need and pledges its continual work on issues of equity. I ask that you please start or continue your own action, whether it is standing up as an ally to a person of color, contacting your elected officials or voting in the upcoming election. Any of these actions will help to heal and improve our community, our state and our nation.

Yours in solidarity,

Myriam Michel
Executive Director

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