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No Justice, No Peace

The trauma of racism is compounded by the lack of constructive national leadership. This is especially true when elected officials and others seem intent on escalating violence and sowing purposeful divisions between people. All this prevents both progress and unity. According to Bobby Watts, CEO of the NHCHC, “America’s ‘original sin’ of slavery lives on in the belief that some lives are worth less than others, and we see that acted out in police brutality, mass incarceration, and apartheid-like housing, health care, and educational systems.”

There will be no peace in our society until we have achieved justice for everyone. Recent acts of racist violence continue to expose the long-standing and widespread oppression of Black and Brown people in the United States, especially at the hands of the police. As health care providers for people experiencing homelessness—a population that is also disproportionately comprised of people of color—we regularly see the significant trauma that racism causes for those we serve. In addition to physical injuries and deaths, racism causes toxic stress, strains mental health, and produces high rates of chronic medical issues and acute conditions like COVID-19 for entire communities of people.

Racism is the root of the pervasive denial of economic prospects, housing opportunities, access to health care, and distribution of wealth in the United States. Racism is also a primary cause of poverty and homelessness and the only way to work toward our mission of ending homelessness is to actively work to dismantle racist systems. We cannot address disparities in health care without addressing violence against black bodies.

Racism will not be eradicated from our society unless we make systemic change. “I stand with those who feel palpable sorrow and rage – a reasonable response to George Floyd’s death. To hear his unanswered cries for help, breath and even his mother, is heartbreaking. We must transform rage into activism, hold authorities accountable and end the pandemic of racism. Policies and hearts must change. Now. We cannot wait any longer” according to Lawanda Williams, MPH, LCSW-C, Chair of NHCHC Clinicians Network.

Similarly, Art Rios, Sr., Chair of the NHCHC National Consumer Advisory Board, asserts “There is a lot of long-term trauma among people on the streets because racism is a systemic problem that’s been here for a very long time. Many voices are not at the decision-making tables to change the policies and standards with the county, city, state, or national understanding.”

The National HCH Council and our entire community recommit to fighting racism and building a society based on justice, not oppression. Only then will we have peace.

About the National Health Care for the Homeless Council

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council is the premier national organization working at the nexus of homelessness and health care. Grounded in human rights and social justice, the NHCHC mission is to build an equitable, high-quality health care system through training, research, and advocacy in the movement to end homelessness. Since 1986, we have brought together thousands of health care professionalsmedical respite care providerspeople with lived experience of homelessness, and advocates. Our Organizational Members include Health Care for the Homeless programs, medical respite programs, and housing and social service organizations across the country. We work to improve homeless health care through Training and Technical Assistanceresearching and sharing best practices, advocating for real solutions to end homelessness, and uplifting voices of people experiencing homelessness.

For Immediate Release

June 3, 2020

Media Contact

Dott Freeman, PhD
Senior Director of Advancement
(615) 226-2292

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