Transforming Pain to Change
Rainbow Health CEO, Jeremy Hanson Willis sent the following email to our supporters on how we can transform pain around the death of George Floyd to change for our communities.
Dear Friend of Rainbow Health,
I write you today with the hope that you and your loved ones are well and safe. Please let me know if there is anything Rainbow Health can do to help.
If you or someone you know is LGBTQ+ or living with HIV and needs emergency assistance, our staff are here for you. You can reach the AIDSLine at 612-373-2437, firstname.lastname@example.org, or text AIDSLine to 839863. Our team can help connect you to HIV peer support, financial resources, housing, mental health. We can help you find a new pharmacy or medical care. And our expert team of mental health therapists is just a phone call or a click away.
While the physical damage to our offices was minimal, the emotional impact of this last week has been tremendous. Like many, we are heartbroken to see how the scourge of racism continues to divide and wreak havoc. We are inspired by the many displays of bravery and justice that emerged over the past days. And we are outraged by the forces of oppression that distract from the core issue at hand: undeterred systemic racism.
Rainbow Health exists because injustice exists. Our purpose to end health inequity for those who face intersecting barriers to health care access and outcomes cannot be achieved unless the brutality of racism is dismantled. Rainbow Health sits at the center of this work and we know that we have no choice but to act. We acknowledge that have not always acted as called upon in the fight against racism, but I am resolute that we will live up to our ideals until our entire beloved community feels safe, healthy, and can able to thrive.
As we begin Pride month let’s also remember and build upon our history. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, Marsha P. Johnson, a black, transwoman and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina-American transgender rights activist, were among those who threw the first bricks that gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
One action we can take right now is joining Minneapolis City Council Vice President (and lifelong activist for justice) Andrea Jenkins’ call for racism to be declared a public health emergency. Rainbow Health stands with Jenkins and her urgent call to action:
“Until we name this virus, this disease that has infected America for the past 400 years, we will never, ever resolve this issue. To those who say bringing up racism is racist in and of itself, I say to you, if you don’t call cancer what it is, you can never cure that disease. And so in an effort to try and cure this disease, I am stating exactly what everyone else has witnessed, and that is racism.”
Despite all the sadness and anger we feel today, I remain hopeful that justice is still attainable. By naming racism for what it is and standing resolute in its dismantling; by lending our support to our fellow BIPOC brothers and sisters so this battle is not fought in isolation; by challenging ourselves every day to do better; we will see progress.
Together, we will grieve and transform our pain into lasting change.
Jeremy Hanson Willis, CEO