CHCANYS grieves alongside the Buffalo community. We are horrified and outraged by this disgusting and deadly racist attack. We vow to continue fighting all forms of racism – whether it be the insidious institutional racism that continues to plague the healthcare system or a blatant attack like the one we witnessed in Buffalo over the weekend.
As we mourn, we feel it is appropriate to re-share the statement written by our former board chair, Dr. LaVonne Ansari, who runs the Community Health Center of Buffalo. These words were written in response to the murder of George Floyd – another vile and racist attack – and evoke the horror we feel again today.
But the most important message is the last sentence, and the one we want to focus on today and always: WE STAND WITH YOU.
I CAN’T BREATHE, BUT ONE DAY WE WILL BREATHE TOGETHER
Originally published May 2020
Community Health Centers are comprehensive primary care providers that began during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. They were started at a time of unrest to help fight the war on poverty and oppression in underserved communities. Now here we are in 2020 and we’re still fighting the same fight — a fight that has gone on too long and has created decades of pent-up anger, suffering, and the rage we are seeing now.
As the board chair of the Community Health Care Association of New York State, the CEO of the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., and an African American woman, educator, and advocate for justice living in these troubling times, I want to ensure that everyone fighting today in protest for George Floyd’s death and all those who have come before him know that WE STAND WITH YOU.
As human beings, we are the greatest creation on earth. This is a time when our human excellence must rise up and denounce beliefs, behaviors, movements, and policies designed to oppress our natural instincts. It is time to treat each other with respect and dignity. As primary care providers, we have the responsibility to support underserved communities, and we are obligated to stand up and share our voices through our work. While we are not exempt from the institutional racism that plagues our health care system, we must serve as essential change-agents at this time. We must start with ourselves as leaders in this movement. We have the will to guide, educate, and build new infrastructures based on an anti-racism framework. Now, we must stand ready to work with everyone at all levels, to encourage inclusivity within our communities, and lead in addressing social economic injustices in our systems.
We know that after difficulty, comes ease. In this moment, we have an opportunity to envision a new reality of “justice for all” with the proper guidance, actions, language, and the spirit to breathe together.
“WE STAND WITH YOU.”