The last week has been devastating as we watch continued violence by the police against Black people, and the outpouring of grief and rage in communities across the country. We know this violence has come at a time when many in our Planned Parenthood family are already stretched to the limit emotionally, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout — both of which have hit Black communities harder.
We know that systemic racism isn’t limited to police departments — it is hardwired into our economic, political, judicial, and health care systems. It’s in our institutions, including Planned Parenthood. Dismantling it begins with acknowledging it.
The over-policing of Black bodies extends far beyond the actions of individual police officers. It is in our workplaces, our schools, our public institutions. It is in our health care system. It is that same policing of Black bodies that makes the promise of reproductive freedom unattainable for Black people in this country. Racism permeates every structure in our society. In the words of Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund: “If Black people do not have the right to bodily autonomy, to live their daily lives — or protest the violence against their lives — without the fear of violence or murder, we can never achieve justice, let alone reproductive freedom.” Read her full statement here.
White supremacy and systemic racism permeate every American institution. The foundation of this country was built on systemic racism and the free labor of enslaved Black people. In order to dismantle it, we must stand in solidarity with those demanding change through uprisings and protests regardless of whether or not they are peaceful. The state has perpetrated violence against Black people for centuries, and how Black people choose to mourn dozens of lives lost and express decades of cumulative rage is not ours to determine.
Now is not just the time to call out violent racism gone viral, it is also a time to look inward. We need to examine how white supremacy of the past and present continues to reverberate in the institutions we are a part of today — including Planned Parenthood. We must acknowledge that historically we were part of the problem, and will remain focused on working to fix it every day. So we commit, once and for all, to a thorough reckoning of our own racist history and how it shows up today. We commit to addressing and correcting implicit bias within our organization so we can improve our delivery of health care, education, and advocacy for all people. In this moment, we commit to supporting and making space for the Black organizations and leaders already at the forefront of this fight. Below are some local Black-led organizations and organizations working to achieve racial justice: