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July 01, 2020

Health Law Connections

A Note on Racial Injustice

  • July 01, 2020
  • David S. Cade , American Health Law Association

We are deeply saddened, frustrated, and profoundly disturbed by the senseless murder of George Floyd. We are even more disturbed that this tragedy is not an isolated incident but is another example of the racism and inequality that has plagued our nation for centuries. This is a difficult time for us, and you are not alone in struggling with this situation.  

As the events of the past weeks have unfolded, I find myself grappling with a myriad of emotions. As I watch peaceful demonstrations and hear anguished cries for justice that have been raised in this country for centuries, I have thoughts that not much has changed in this country and I am frustrated. Like many of you, I have learned to keep my emotions inside. Yet my reality is full of pain and sadness as I reflect on my own experiences, those that have impacted my family, and those that I see daily on the news. The image of Mr. Floyd brought back images of my sister-in-law’s murder at the hands of a self-proclaimed white supremacist not too long ago. There’s space for all of us to be angry, to grieve, and to give voice for change.  

Even though no one is immune from the impact of racism, hatred, and indifference, I believe in Nelson Mandela’s words.

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. - Nelson Mandela, 1994

There is a cure to the disease that has perpetuated health, income, and education disparities in this country. An African proverb says, “too much tolerance paves the way for trouble.” In other words, you will never change what you are willing to tolerate. To remain silent and tolerate racism means that racism will never end.  

We, as an association, are committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our association and the health law community we support. We further condemn the inequality that exists in our country and the world. AHLA has and continues to move forward initiatives that advance our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and continues to look for additional ways to bring our community together and do our part in the fight to end systematic racism, injustice, and inequality and to expand on issues related to health disparities.  

Last year we amplified our efforts to have greater diversity and representation in leadership and in speaking and author opportunities and are making progress. We have expanded diversity and inclusion and unconscious bias education. In fact, the Board and non-Board leaders will receive additional training this year. We will continue to work aggressively with our leaders to offer content about health inequities, discriminatory health practices, and racial disparities that impact our community and the health status of those who receive less than.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King Jr., 1965

Now is not the time to be silent.