Washington D.C. (May 29) – In a statement from Susan N. Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, she notes:

“George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Christian Cooper. In the midst of a national pandemic, the African American community has faced yet another layer of trauma based on the horrific events of the past few weeks that sadly show the worst of America. Our nation can no longer put off having an authentic and difficult national conversation about the realities of systemic racism and inequities facing too many of our neighbors of color and the impact on our society as a whole.

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities stands with our members in Minneapolis and in communities across the country during this painful time. This is a moment to care for one another, and to create intentional spaces for critical conversations about the role and sources of systemic racism in our own communities and our country and commit to solving them.

Recent events have again brought to light systemic racism in our law enforcement institutions, but we know it exists in other systems as well. We cannot pretend that these realities that our neighbors of color experience in their daily lives are based on individual choices but rather we must confront the fact that our systems have been set up to get exactly the results we are seeing. This is the time to talk about the root causes of the health inequities among communities of color revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has African Americans contracting and dying from the disease at a much higher rate than whites. It is about the disparities that children of color face, being removed from their families and placed into foster care at a disproportionate rate and being sent to prison at higher rates as well. It is about the inequities in access to quality education among low-income and African American communities that leave too many children behind.

Systemic racism and implicit bias are infused in too many of our systems that are supposed to ensure all people have access to educational success, quality health care, food security, housing, socioeconomic mobility, reduced stress, and so much more. The science is clear, the answers are in the social determinants of health, which are the social determinants of life. Together they create the context in which we live our daily lives and are the building blocks that should provide a steady foundation on which everyone can reach their full potential, regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or their socioeconomic standing.

Our nation must confront this crisis head on. We have both an opportunity and mandate to reimagine all of our systems in the context of equity, diversity, and inclusion with an understanding of these social determinants to better serve all Americans, regardless of race. This includes reimagining and realigning our systems to ensure that both policy and practice across education, criminal justice, health care, housing, and economic systems is just, fair, and inclusive for everyone to fully contribute to their communities.

Because community-based human services organizations work at the nexus of families, communities, and the public and private systems that interface in their lives, we know that this national conversation starts by acknowledging the systemic inequities that serve as real and significant barriers to people and communities working to reach their full potential. We must value and engage all voices in these conversations as well as the voices of lived experience to truly bring about the change we all desire.

This isn’t a problem we can solve overnight. But we have to start by loving one another more, seeing the humanity and value of every human being, and being courageous enough to engage in a dialogue with all Americans about the root causes of the insidious racism and bias in our society. That starts with a commitment to speak out against any examples of racism or bias that have for too long traumatized too many individuals, families, and communities. Let’s speak out, come together and bring about the systemic changes that will be necessary to ensure diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity are at the heart of our communities, our systems and our nation as a whole. We all do well when we all do well.”

Join us this Friday, June 5 from 10-11 a.m. CT for the Conversation on Racial Justice Protests and Opportunities to Advance Equity virtual conversation. 

About the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities is a strategic action network of thousands of committed social sector leaders who through their excellence, distinction, and influence are working to achieve a healthy and equitable society. We aggregate the very best sector knowledge and serve as an incubator for learning and innovation to generate new solutions to the toughest problems. We accelerate change through dynamic leadership development and collective actions to ensure policies and systems provide equal access and opportunity for all people in our nation to reach their fullest potential through improvements in health and well-being, educational success, economic opportunity, and safety and resilience. Go to alliance1.org for more information.