On November 25, 2014, the National Collaborative for Health Equity released a statement about the recent Grand Jury decision regarding Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. The statement addresses the national focus on racial justice and equality following Brown’s death and its implications for the health and well-being of communities of color.
MPHA joins the National Collaborative in asserting that “aggressive policing and inequitable treatment of people of color by police not only is unfair and counter to American values, it also increases risks for poor health in communities of color – and not just among those directly harmed by police actions. It can lead to distrust of police and an unwillingness to cooperate with police investigations. It also contributes to high levels of stress among those innocent persons treated with suspicion by police, and erodes a community’s sense of security”.
Stress levels and risks for overall poor health are already proven to be amplified in communities of color across the nation, and this problem is exacerbated when communities are faced with aggressive policing and discrimination.
In order to halt the debilitating affects this inequitable treatment has on these individuals, the National Collaborative “calls for police departments around the country to avoid future tragedies such as Brown’s death by receiving training on implicit bias and other unconscious processes, and understanding the role that they play in everyday policing decisions. We also call for news media to provide more fair and balanced reporting of news involving people of color, and to focus attention on the structural barriers at the root of so many racial inequities, whether related to policing and criminal justice, economic opportunity, health, and the like. And we call on our leaders – elected officials, clergy, business leaders, civic leaders, and others – to bravely lead a national conversation on race and racism. Evidence reveals that racism literally kills people of color. This is not only morally wrong, but it also threatens to continue to erode the fabric of American society in ways that hurt all of us”.
MPHA encourages others to join us as we work to fight for equality and social justice for all communities. We must promote policies that eliminate disparities and work achieve the equity in health we all deserve.