We, as members of the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina, came together over 8 years ago with a collective commitment to align our efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in South Carolina. This commitment was built on the foundation of pursuing health and racial equity together. However, recent events have placed a bright light on the racial inequities and social injustices that have resulted in much poorer health and quality of life for people and communities of color. The COVID pandemic has disproportionately impacted African American and Latino people, with a markedly higher death rate in the black communities in both SC and the nation. Now, we have witnessed the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery by people in positions of power resulting in protests and demonstrations across the country, including several SC cities. While we do not condone the violence and destruction of lives and property that have occurred in the wake of these protests, we have to acknowledge that the health inequities and social injustices due to systemic and institutional racism can no longer be accepted or tolerated.
As key public and private sector leaders in the state, it is time for us to stand up together with the people and communities in SC most impacted by these injustices and say, NO MORE.
- NO MORE to not openly acknowledging structural and institutional racism and associated racial biases as the root causes of major health, education and economic disparities for communities of color across SC;
- NO MORE just talking solely about pursuing health equity, but also take and encourage meaningful action at the policy, program and practice levels to achieve racial equity and justice;
- NO MORE taking actions to and for communities of color but rather work with
those communities as equal partners in identifying and implementing solutions;
- NO MORE accepting racial disparities in health and wellbeing as inevitable, but rather embrace that these disparities are preventable by speaking with one voice and taking action with one purpose- a healthier SC for all.
This day, we renew our common commitment to achieving health equity, racial equity and social justice across our state. We will not rest until every person and family in SC, regardless of the color of their skin or where they live, learn, work or worship, have the opportunity to achieve their optimal level of health and wellbeing.
Juana Slade, Chair, Alliance for a Healthier SC
Monty Robertson, Director, Alliance for a Healthier SC