Racism is a pandemic. Black Lives Matter. Period.
The Global Healthy Living Foundation released a statement this past week explaining our position and discussing the differences in health outcomes between the black and white community in the United States. Read it here.
We hoped this would provide some comfort and support for our community members who are struggling right now.
We aimed to let our black communities know that we — a non-profit organization that promotes advocacy, research, education, and support for people living with chronic illness, including advocating to end health care disparities — see you, hear you, and support you.
We are not naïve. We expected that this response would upset some folks. And we knew some people would leave the Global Healthy Living Foundation and the CreakyJoints arthritis patient community.
While this is sad, we are fine with those folks leaving. Our message is right and we believe that we are on the right side of history.
We do hope, though, that those who may be uncomfortable with our statement stick around so we can learn and grow together.
What we didn’t expect was the hostility that would pour into our inboxes as a result of our statement.
We are sharing with you some of this feedback (anonymous, of course) because you may encounter similar sentiments in your own personal conversations about racial justice and equality, whether on social media or in private discourse.
We hope our thinking may provide support in how you can process and frame your reaction.
Content warning: Racism and profanity below.
“Drop dead you are a *** virus. Don’t email me again losers.”
Response: We hope that one day our world is vaccinated against bigotry and oppression. Until then we will continue to raise our voices about racial and health care inequality.
“Never again will this organization or your charities get a penny or support from us. Never. When my hand is healed up, I am posting your article on the internet showing your abandonment of law enforcement. All lives matter.”
Response: GHLF never asks people for donations and never will. Of course, all lives literally matter, but right now we are talking about only black lives. It would be like someone saying, “Why are you talking about arthritis during Arthritis Awareness Month? We need to talk about breast cancer or HIV.” It is OK to advocate for a specific cause — it doesn’t take away from the fact that other causes still matter. (And we hope your hand gets better. Here’s a resource that might help.)
“I assume you are taking your lead from other organizations that are sending out similar emails, but if you were to check with the legal division of your company, you would discover that this is inappropriate! I do not wish to ever hear from you again for any reason unless it is to apologize to me for the distress your email has caused me!”
Response: Dear Karen, you are speaking to the manager. We are taking our lead from people of color who live with chronic disease and disability. We are taking a stand against people who believe this is a political issue. This is not about politics. This is about social justice. Anyone who thinks that matters of race and justice have nothing to do with health is mistaken. In order to help do our part, our organization will continue to research and highlight the ways in which societal factors influence health outcomes. We can use your help, so we hope you stick around to join us.
We will continue showing up for what we believe, and we will continue to do this work within the arthritis, disability, and chronic illness community.
To join our community, sign up for the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s support program. You’ll receive opportunities to make an impact at local and federal levels, and you’ll receive resources to help you navigate these trying times.