Have You Heard?
Have you heard the latest news from the CDC? Well, maybe not quite the latest, but pretty recent from about a month ago. You’re probably wondering what COVID tidbit, or fact, I’m going to throw your way along with the latest news every business, organization, city, store, restaurant, etc., is professing currently. But that is not what I’m referencing. The most shocking news I have heard from the CDC in recent months has absolutely nothing to do with COVID.
“Racism is a serious threat to the public’s health,” reads the title from the CDC article. That is the most shocking news.
Now I know racism has been in the headlines more often as of late, but I had never begun to think of it as a threat to public health. When I think about a threat to public health, my mind jumps to things like viruses that come out of nowhere and throw the world into a frenzy or world hunger and stuff of that nature. But now that I’ve heard it said, I can’t get it out of my mind. Racism is a threat to public health.
A Threat to Public Health
Threats to public health damage our societies on a broad scale. We’re talking about civilizations leveled by things like natural disasters that inflict widespread poverty. That is racism. A flawed system passed down through history, lessening the quality of life for generation, after generation, of certain demographic groups.
Whether you’ve witnessed it or not, whether you’ve experienced it or not, there is no denying the reality at hand. Since the beginning of civilization, countless man-made laws, governances, and ordinances have been based on principles of natural law. I agree with Natural law. So much that I even pursued a law degree. It was my way of finding a means of fighting for justice on behalf of those segregated from it. Every living person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and to live freely. However, the governments that raised societies and birthed civilizations didn’t always apply this natural law to all people. Heck, the Civil Rights movement was only in the 1960s. That is nearly one hundred years after slavery was demolished.
How Do We Move Forward?
So jump forward to today, the CDC declares racism as a threat to public health. How do we combat a system that has flaws in its very origins? Well, I think we should remember the natural law that stands at the core of our flawed system, misinterpreted and misaligned, the truth remains—all living persons have dignity and are worthy of respect.
At this time, I advise that we each take steps forward trying to spread that behavior, the behavior of caring. Recognize the worth of everyone.
How can we go deeper and work to whittle away the racist aspects of the systems we live in and are governed by? How can we reduce and eradicate the adverse effects on People of Color’s (POC) social determinants?
It Begins at Work
Let’s consider what we can do inside of our workplaces. Where better to start within our organizations than with the first experiences employees have with us. I encourage organizations to review their recruitment, hiring, and promotional practices. Listen to the voices of your employees about these systems. Are they fair to all? Where are there areas of opportunity? If you make changes, ensure that all leadership understands their responsibility to communicate and vouch for all DEI initiatives.
After reviewing your hiring processes, if you notice discrepancies or witness data that confirms your organization needs change, take strategic steps to change. It is not the job of the person or groups being discriminated against to inform others of their position. It is not their responsibility to educate those that have not experienced racism. Organizations need to provide resources to educate their employees on the history of this issue and the threat it poses to public health. Offer, or even require, additional training on micro-aggressions, unconscious bias, etc.
Furthermore, examine where your organization’s money is going. What causes do you stand behind and support? What non-profit or charity initiatives are you backing? Do you do your part as an organization to provide equal opportunity for all regardless of their demographic? If you do, then you are already aiding those people outside of the workplace.
Subsequently, if POC can earn salaries that reasonably correspond to their work experience and position, the discrimination gap will shrink. Fairly distributed wages can improve the chances that POC can live in accord with their means. Their children might have the opportunity to attend better schools and have more opportunities than their parents before them. With minor changes like this, the system of racism that we are working to take down has a better chance to improve in due time.
Be Prepared for Human Error
Inevitably, we will fail along the way. People will commit acts of unconscious bias or prejudice. Organizations must prepare for this by creating psychologically safe spaces that allow employees to report any discrimination freely. Encourage reporting of every kind. In tandem with the encouragement to talk about more controversial or uncomfortable situations, create a system for accountability. Then anyone, regardless of their seniority, will be held to the same standard and understand the zero retaliation policy.
Additionally, even a review and update of simple systems within your organization can significantly impact the lives of countless people. As we move forward, let’s seek to heal our country from the numerous divides racism has torn open. Let’s come together. Enough with exclusion! The last thing we need right now is more divisiveness. Let’s seek to rebuild, uplift, come together and unite ourselves under a system that doesn’t condemn anyone.