A Message from the President: Confronting Racism – When does it end?
Dear Seven Hills Community,
I’ve spent the past days reflecting on the issues we face here at Seven Hills Foundation, but even more so, the seeming out of control dynamics facing our country, and the world. Beyond the COVID crisis, the other issue which has shaken me to my core this past week is the unraveling of the social fabric of America as a result of the decades of racial and social injustices suffered by Americans of color. The heinous and needless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have let loose the frustration and anger of millions of Americans. The groundswell of reaction, from Boston to Los Angeles, is not reflective of just this latest incident so visually depicted on TV but is a result of the cumulative overt as well as subtle insults and atrocities foisted on our nation’s African American community, immigrants, and those who are devalued. The George Floyd atrocity lit the match on a long simmering and engrained social injustice which has become an unjust equilibrium in our country.
All of us – every one of us – have biases and prejudices that we’ve learned and have acquired from childhood. It’s time we stop and deeply think about what our own prejudices are and how hurtful they are to others – as well as ourselves. America needs to purge itself of the longstanding hatreds and presumptions about minority populations and that can only start with each one of us – individually. What’s happening now across America is a start of that purging and I pray in time that after the riots and anger have abated, we each use this opportunity to re-build a “new normal” of tolerance, respect, and kindness toward others. I pray that America commits itself to societal values which ensure economic and educational opportunities for ALL citizens of these United States.
I have been so troubled trying to think of the right words to say to our 4,600 Seven Hills employees on this matter which are not overtly political. What I am left with however are thoughts of leaders who we can point to that help us think through this period. Historically, I look to the words – the courage – and the civility of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was determined, passionate, compassionate, and resolved to address the injustices suffered by African Americans for so many decades, yet he never burned a building or physically assaulted anyone. He was steadfast in his belief of non-violent confrontation until the day he was taken from us. I am hoping that we can look to someone like Dr. King in the future who can inspire our nation, our states, our own Seven Hills Foundation in reflecting upon the values we must hold dear in the years ahead if social justice for all is to remain our ultimate goal.
It is clear that institutionalized racism that condones brutality against black people and other minorities is the same racism that perpetuates health disparities and inequities. It is no surprise that the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color in America is not an accident. It can be traced to years of conscious decisions made by people with power–elected officials and others–who have determined that in communities of color, it is acceptable to have significantly higher levels of pollution, lower standards of housing, joblessness and schools far inferior to those for children in white communities. If we wish for a better America, we must all fight for racial and social justice including choices concerning police accountability, healthcare access, economic and educational opportunity, housing, and how we address the needs of our essential healthcare workers - who are disproportionately immigrants, who are black and brown – during this COVID crisis.
I believe in the inherent goodness of people and yet I am aware that some will do anything they can to tear down others they perceive as different. I will continue to fight for those who support social justice and racial, ethnic, and gender equality. Those children and adults we care for at Seven Hills would expect nothing less.
Dr. David A. Jordan
President, Seven Hills Foundation