By Chloe Yang, Dr. Robert Sege, and Dr. Dina Burstein, 6/2/20, positiveexperience.org
These past few days, the killing of George Floyd has opened a raw wound, one among many, caused by police brutality and a system built on racism. HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences) seeks to create a world in which every child has the chance to live a long, healthy life. The four building blocks promote positive, nurturing relationships. Safe, stable, and equitable environments. Opportunities for social and civic engagement. Opportunities to develop social and emotional competencies. Racism at all levels—interpersonal, internalized, structural, and institutional—have been laid bare during the pandemic and in the perpetual police killings of Black Americans. These latest instances of violence have demonstrated, yet again, that some children are thought to be more deserving of positive experiences. HOPE believes all families, children, and communities deserve positive experiences, free from discrimination and harm.
We stand with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many more. Sadly, this is nothing new. Many Southern police departments began as slave patrols. Anti-Black racism is baked into these institutions, into our history, laws, and behaviors. This country and its economy was built on the exploitation and forced labor of African American people. The effects are still felt today: in the loss of Black life which often goes unpunished, in the systematic disenfranchisement of communities of color, in the overt and pernicious discrimination in housing, employment, healthcare, and going about their daily lives. This systematic racial discrimination leads to significant health disparities between Blacks and Whites: Black children have a 500% higher death rate from asthma compared with White children, and Black adults have higher rates of diabetes, hypertensions, and heart disease than other racial groups, due to a “confluence of societal racism, poverty and other factors.” As stated in the op-ed which presents this data, “When it comes to good health, our ZIP code”—and racial discrimination—“can be more important than our genetic code.”