By David Woodlock, President and CEO, ICL
” I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ‘ ”
–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
At ICL, we are all dreamers too. We believe passionately in social justice and helping one person at a time in the communities we serve. But we know that institutional racism has prevented Black people from achieving the dream — from feeling safe in their own neighborhoods and even their own homes, from receiving a good education, and from getting fair economic opportunities.
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer is just the latest of many tragic reminders of the disparate treatment of Black people by law enforcement. Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice are just a few of the many who have suffered the same fate. Racism is a public health issue and police brutality must stop.
ICL stands with their families and with the protestors. So many of the people who come to us for aid bring a terrible burden with them. We all bear some responsibility for that burden.
But just acknowledging this isn’t enough. At ICL, we are committed to treating everyone with respect and dignity. Our mission is to lift up those who have been hurt, bring hope and joy into people’s lives, and help to create brighter futures where all our heads are held high. We have no greater purpose. Our integrated health model looks at the whole person and their full range of health and behavioral health needs and risks, including structural racism that causes emotional and mental harm, contributing to health conditions like chronic stress and hypertension.
However, we need to do more. We have an obligation to also call out the racism that oppresses so many of the people who come to us for help. We must look for ways to dismantle institutional racism and advocate for policies that address social and economic disparities, including inequities in healthcare that disproportionately affect Black people. Only then, after doing that work, will we fulfill Dr. King’s vision of equality for all.