Structural Racism is a Public Health Crisis

June 2, 2020

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

A week ago, we all learned of the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. His death follows too many like it, where unarmed Black Americans are murdered by police officers and neighbors – including, recently, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor – an emergency room technician killed in her own home.

These murders take place against a backdrop of structural racism: A society built on a belief that some lives are worth more than others. We live under a President who encourages violence against people protesting for Black lives, and a Governor who preemptively activates the National Guard but refuses proactive action against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately infecting and killing Black, brown, and Native Americans, due to a wide range of structural and systemic inequities.

I am writing today to make it clear where Missouri Health Care for All stands.

We believe Black Lives Matter.

We believe structural racism is a public health crisis.

We condemn brutality perpetrated against people of color.

We support the First Amendment right of all people to protest against injustice, and oppose violent police action against protestors.

We know there will never be “health care for all” without eliminating the racism that is woven into the very fabric of our health care system.

Missouri Health Care for All acknowledges that we too have been shaped by the structural racism that has benefited white people over everyone else. We are working to correct these inequalities, internally and externally, and we call on others to do the same.

Change is difficult, but it is also possible and essential. I invite you to join me in donating to organizations that are Black-led and working to end structural racism. Here are some of the incredible organizations leading the way in Missouri:

Dismantling structural racism is as integral to health advocacy as expanding Medicaid and protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Thank you for stepping into the call to action with us.


Jen Bersdale
Executive Director
Missouri Health Care for All

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