211 7th Avenue N, Ste. 100
Nashville, TN 37219
Phone: (615) 255-0331 Fax: (615) 255-0354
June 1, 2020 –
Our hearts are heavy with the pain and division in our nation. Our hearts are heavy with the disregard for human life that enables a man like George Floyd to be murdered in front of us all while his killers calmly drain the life from him with cameras watching. Our hearts are heavy because there is no mother of a black son in this country who is not afraid every day for his safety. As health care advocates, we see every day the impact of living with the stress and fear of systemic racism on the bodies of the clients we serve. Health disparities are the product of public policy and personal bias, of destructive leadership and collective failure.
We call out leaders who push myths, with barely coded words, that spark distrust and hate. Here at home, we have seen this in callous indifference to a state bureaucratic process that cost 200,000 poor children their health coverage. We have seen it in concerted efforts to take away public health coverage and destroy a lifegiving program that is disparaged with references to the black president who created it.
To our state officials, please don’t indulge in the cheap grace of condemning George Floyd’s murder while you refuse even to consider or discuss expanding Medicaid in this pandemic. Don’t condemn racism, when your refusal to allow working Tennesseans access to federal health insurance – a policy that in 36 other states and DC has reduced racial disparities and saved Black lives. Please don’t proclaim that “All lives matter”, while devaluing the lives of poor children by cutting nutrition programs that can affect their entire lives. Don’t claim to care about justice, while advancing the interests of predatory lenders.
Black babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. Black moms are 3 times more likely to die in childbirth than white moms. And we know both of these realities could be remedied by preconception care which could be fully funded in Tennessee if our leaders simply said, “Yes please.” For 5 years, Tennessee leaders have had access to funds to expand coverage to 300,000 Tennesseans. But our leaders refuse to do so. It seems clear to us that the disregard for life evidenced by this neglect is on full display in America’s police brutality and racist violence. The pain of loving and giving to a country that treats you and those who look like you this way is unbearable to consider and while those of us who are white can never fully understand that pain, we stand with our black and brown clients, partners, volunteers, donors and colleagues in pushing for our nation to do better and to be better. You deserve better.