June 3, 2020 - As we deal with the disparate impact the pandemic is having on communities of color, our hearts are breaking with the stories and images of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others who have died in the hands of racial injustice. It does not matter that this happened in another city. Every person of color in Oregon and southwest Washington felt the trauma and pain of another life being taken for no good reason. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Hopefully each of you, as business leaders, have had enough of these senseless killings and the systematic racism that perpetuates these acts. People of color are traumatized constantly in our country and some have learned to tolerate this as a part of daily life. However, when events of this past weekend happen, trauma for people of color goes off the charts. They are your employees, your colleagues, your neighbors, your friends. They bring their pain, sadness and frustration to work -- and without outlets to acknowledge this trauma within their workplace, it continues to fester inside.
We must be enraged and be willing to do something about the systems, policies and practices that have led to the oppression of our fellow community members. Broken economic systems that underpay people for honest work, hiring practices that continue to bias applicants, housing discrimination due to unequal access to capital, and the legacy of redlining are just a few things that we must work to fix immediately.
It’s important now more than ever to put equity, inclusion and justice at the forefront of everything we do and work together to make the world a safer place for people of color—one that is free of racism.
Executive Director, Partners in Diversity
Resources for racial trauma
University of California, Davis, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
University of Northern Texas, Racial trauma and self-care in tragedy
“Structural racism, trauma and violence” a talk by Alisha Moreland-Capuia, M.D., executive director, OHSU Avel Gordly Center for Healing, assistant professor of Psychiatry, OHSU.
For children and parents
- Glazer Children’s Museum: https://glazermuseum.org/socialjustice
- Children’s Law Center: https://www.childrenslawcenter.org/article/racism-trauma