The National Women’s Health Network (the NWHN) supports racial justice and stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We oppose racially targeted police brutality and all forms of discrimination against Black and brown people. We mourn the Black lives lost unnecessarily and prematurely to police violence, including Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old emergency room technician who was shot eight times and killed on March 13th while in her home sleeping by the Louisville, Kentucky police.
We make these statements as a national women’s health organization committed to social change, eliminating racism, and centering the voices of Black and brown people. We cannot create a world that meets the health needs of women in all their diversities when the lives of Black, immigrant, indigenous, and other people of color are devalued, unsupported and indiscriminately targeted for violence.
We understand that health justice requires racial justice, and that police brutality is a reproductive justice issue. We support the Black woman-led definition of reproductive justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. We understand that confronting and addressing white supremacy is a necessary part of creating health for all people, in all policies.
We mourn the lives lost to racially targeted police violence. George Floyd’s death at the hands of a group of Minneapolis police officers was caught on camera. Breonna Taylor’s death was not captured on camera because it happened in the middle of the night, inside her own apartment. Breonna was killed when police used a battering ram to break into her apartment shortly after midnight.
Ahmaud Arbery was jogging when he was pursued and killed by two white men. Local police refused to file charges in the case until video footage of the attack surfaced months later.
All of these deaths, and the many others that have happened at the hands of police, were unjust and completely preventable, and have rightly sparked protests as a result of the blatant racism exhibited by some police officers. Today, we see even more instances of police singling out people of color for arrest and treating them with unnecessary brutality. We stand in solidarity with the protesters.
We understand the need for those who have more privilege to speak and act in solidarity with those who are marginalized and targeted for oppression. The NWHN does this every day in our advocacy work and our partnership with the many Black-, Latinx- and trans-led organizations in Raising Women’s Voices.
These times demand more, though. As a white executive director, I had the confidence that our community bank would help us get a COVID paycheck protection loan. That loan is making it easier for the NWHN to keep its staff safely working at home than it is for many similarly-sized organizations led by people of color. In their honor, and in response to the current crisis, we are using unrestricted funds to make a donation to Black woman-led organizations. We encourage those of you who have the resources to make a special contribution to SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Black Mamas Matter or local organizations such as the Kentucky Health Justice Network.
Silence is complicity. We must speak up to oppose police violence against Black women and other people of color. We must act quickly to support those who are being targeted and are bravely resisting. We all have a part to play.