Racism is a public health crisis and its impact on sexual health is massive. We will not reduce disparities in sexual health by continuing to stay silent on racism in our communities.
Texas Health Action and our programs like Kind Clinic are committed to being vocally anti-racist and saying BLACK LIVES MATTER.
We had planned to roll out a celebratory pride campaign with a message to BE KIND and BE PROUD. However, we cannot celebrate Pride Month and ignore that too many queer people of color in our state are being left out of progress. Our work to expand access to sexual health would not be possible without the trailblazing Black trans women and queer people of color who stood up to police brutality and sparked a movement decades ago.
So, we will continue to BE KIND. But we also invite you to join us to BE LOUD and say BLACK LIVES MATTER and BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER. We also emphatically support our staff who choose to BE LOUD and exercise their right to protest. As I told our staff earlier, their advocacy gives me hope.
If you do join a protest, here are some resources to help you do so as safely as possible: “Protesting while LGBTQ or HIV+” from Lambda Legal, “Knowing your rights” from the ACLU, and “How to more safely protest in a pandemic” from Vox. Please wear masks and take as many precautions as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is growing in our communities and has disproportionately impacted Black people and communities of color.
A PROCESS FOR CHANGE
We must do more to eradicate racism to bring forth sexual health and wellness for all. We are looking at ways to make immediate change, but I want to be transparent about our long-term process for change as well as some new and existing commitments. With the support of an outside team, our board and Staff began a journey in April of learning (and unlearning) lessons of diversity, equity and inclusion. This work will help individuals at all levels of our organization make meaningful change, including where and how our services are delivered.
As an organization we are publicly committed to:
- Continue increasing the diversity of our administrative staff, medical providers, senior leadership and board of directors
- Forming a community advisory board including a diverse group of individuals to better inform our strategic planning process
- Closing disparity gaps and increasing access to all of our services across Texas with greater focus on people of color in LGBTQIA+ communities
- Deepening our engagement with people of color in LGBTQIA+ communities through more inclusive programming, outreach and sponsorships
We know there is more work to do and you are our partner in this fight. If you have ideas on how we can face this public health crisis together or see us falling short on our commitment, please reach out to any member of our staff or to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our values of Accountability, Total Inclusion, Trust, Innovation, Respect and Excellence call on us to do better. Lives depend on it.
BE KIND. BE LOUD. BE PROUD.
Christopher Hamilton, MPH
CEO, Texas Health Action