By Jeron Ravin, President and CEO of Swope Health
I want to acknowledge the anxiety and stress many of you are enduring with the recent unrest in Kansas City. The events and subsequent demonstrations have surfaced a multitude of emotions: anger, despair, anxiety, and fear, but also commitment, courage and hope.
At Swope Health, our associates all share a working knowledge of systemic inequalities. We see them every day. The harsh reality is that inequities and injustices are not merely theoretical, but are real, life limiting, and often weaponized against communities already facing historical neglect, marginalization, and brutality.
The senseless death of George Floyd was the catalyst for the unrest you see today. But the pain and anger you see from many, including me, is that George Floyd recalls the memory of Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Travis Miller, Christian Cooper and far too many others to list.
To the mothers and fathers raising children of color, I imagine the burden of worry you wear hangs heavy. One of my favorite leaders, Martin Luther King Jr., once wrote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I hope this is true. We long for the day when all our children have the same freedoms, without worry for their safety in a society that dehumanizes them, built on systematic injustice.
I believe this is a time to care for yourself and your families first and foremost. Recognize anxiety, stress, and pain, and take time to address it. It is appropriate to ask for help if you are struggling. It is also appropriate to lend your ideas. We will listen.
I also believe this is a time to use your voice. Standing against inequality – in healthcare, housing, education, the application of the law and practices of law enforcement – is not a political act, but a moral one.
Finally, remember that the very existence of Swope Health is an action to combat these injustices. Recall, our founding 50 years ago was in a time of similar civil unrest. Community leaders sought to attack the structural, social, and economic roots of poverty and racism. In 1969, then called the Model Cities Corporation, Swope Health was born.
This is still our mission. Yes, we are profoundly saddened that the same fight continues, but we won’t waiver in our commitment to it. We are called to make a difference in the lives of the least, lost, and the too often left behind. It is precisely times like these when they need us and our voice most. Feel empowered; we have more work to do.
In service to justice,