August 17, 2017 | Blog Post

On Charlottesville

By Jake Williams, Executive Director

Please take a second to read Executive Director Jake Williams’ response to the events and violence that transpired in Charlottesville in the month of August.

Read more about Jake Williams by visiting our staff page: healthiercolorado.org/staff

Read more about Jake Williams by visiting our staff page. 

The events of this week seem to be a startling deviation from what Dr. King identified as the long arc in our moral universe that bends toward justice.

Our sympathies and thoughts are with the families of those injured and killed in the tragic events this past weekend in Charlottesville. In this tragedy, our resolve to achieve equity is strengthened.  

We are an organization that focuses on improving health. In that pursuit, we seek to address the social determinants, including race, that have been demonstrated to influence health. In 1900, there was a 16-year gap in life expectancy at birth between African Americans and whites. Today, that gap is 3.5 years. Our topic of focus reflects both the progress and remaining challenges on race and ethnicity in our country at large.

It’s been 152 years since we won the Civil War and ended slavery. We passed the Civil Rights Act 53 years ago. We elected our first black president 9 years ago. Yet today, in 2017, we have a president who defends white nationalists. Racism is still a political strategy that can get traction because racism still stains our society.

At the top of our website, we say that Healthier Colorado strives to give “everyone a chance at a healthy life.” We specifically and sincerely mean everyone. Today, race is still a barrier standing in the way of that ideal. As disheartening as the events of this week have been, I derive optimism from our work here.

When I walk into our office in the morning, I see a Nepalese immigrant, a Jewish woman, a Latina, a gay man, a woman with a disability, and a white Republican all working together to build a future in which we all have the chance to live a healthy life.

As an organization, we mobilize thousands of Coloradans to realize that same vision through our campaigns. Our progress on health, though not uninterrupted, will not be deterred. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. In this, I still have faith.

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