La Familia Medical Center condemns the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, the many acts of police violence against peaceful protesters, and the egregious history of police brutality against, and mistreatment of, the black community over the years.
Community Health Centers originated with the Civil Rights Movement and were a direct response to inequality in health care. When La Familia was founded in the early 1970s, our vision was a new model of health care, accessible to all, addressing health disparities and social determinants of health that are the product of discrimination and injustice in our society.
In our daily work providing care to our community, we see the health effects of racism and the trauma experienced disproportionately by people of color. Police brutality has a direct effect on the health of people of color, with repercussions for the whole community. Research shows that pregnant black women who live near the sites of police killings of unarmed blacks have infants with significantly lower birth weights. The stress of enduring racism results in higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases among people of color and higher rates of death from almost all causes. We see the direct effects of racism and inequality on health in the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic in New Mexico. Although Native Americans make up only 11% of our population, they comprise almost 60% of all COVID-19 cases and half of all deaths.
We all must act to call out systemic racism and racist beliefs. At La Familia, we will recommit ourselves to diversity, equity and inclusion. We will continue to make La Familia a safe space for all.
Our core values are to treat everyone with the same high level of respect, dignity and compassion, including people of color and those who are poor, homeless, non-English-speaking, followers of any religion or no religion, LGBTQ, undocumented immigrants, whether using drugs, disabled, or struggling with mental illness or chronic disease. We pledge to advocate actively against racism in our own organization, and in our community and country.
We call on our city, county and state to enact policies to eliminate racial discrimination in law enforcement and our criminal justice system, and also ask our political leaders to prioritize funding for health care, social services and education programs that address racial disparities.
Community Health Centers were created for and by the communities they serve. We pledge to be a catalyst for real change and work in solidarity with all Santa Feans for a future where the color of your skin does not determine your ability to be healthy and safe.
Gloria Martinez is development director for La Familia Medical Center. This column represents a statement from the board of directors of La Familia.