America today is confronted by two distinct and cruelly intersecting pandemics: the novel coronavirus, and systemic racism. The America we see today is in a public health crisis on both fronts.
COVID-19 is infecting, killing and rendering unemployed Black Americans at an astounding rate. And before this pandemic, the pandemic of institutional racism in America has similarly taken its toll on everything from maternal mortality, which is three times higher for Black women than for white women, to breast cancer, the death rate of which is 40% higher for African-American women. Black women have twice as many unintended pregnancies, and are four times as likely to contract HIV.
Layered on top of that is a justice system that over-polices Black bodies. Being Black in America shouldn’t be a death sentence, but very often it is.
In recent months, these Black Americans have been victims of fatal police brutality:
They are not alone. Horrifyingly, there are many more who have perished over the past months, years and decades.
Violence at the hands of law enforcement is not new, but rather centuries old. It’s as old as the white-made and bold-faced lie that somehow these victims of police brutality did something to deserve their fate. We wholesale reject this lie and say unequivocally that:
Black lives matter.
Black dreams matter.
Black futures matter.
Black women matter.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic serves North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and the western half of Virginia. Our homeland is the birthplace to the Confederacy—from Fort Sumter to the Shenandoah Valley. Our service area bears the stained legacy of enslavement, subjugation over and violence against Black bodies. The vestiges of that institutionalized racism and oppression endure here, beyond the
police brutality to which we have borne collective witness. They persist in every aspect of our infrastructure – healthcare delivery, education, housing, and the justice system.
As we’ve seen police brutalize and control Black bodies, we understand that the same control is happening in sexual and reproductive health care. Our mission is to fight for reproductive freedom, which we know is unattainable for Black women when they are persecuted simply for existing.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is reckoning with our own complicity in white supremacy and systemic racism. As we continue to deliver the high quality care our patients expect from us, we know that progress can be difficult, but our patients, students, advocates, partners, and staff deserve no less.
We are committed to supporting and making space for the Black organizations and leaders already at the forefront of this fight leading the hard and necessary work of dismantling white supremacy. Please consider making a donation to a local bail fund to support protesters in your city and to Black Voters Matter to support efforts to register Black voters. We also encourage you to take action with Color of Change here or by texting FLOYD to 55156, and to plug into important actions, virtual events and education resources through the Movement for Black Lives.
Until unjust systems of oppression are dismantled, none of us are free.