Health-based organizations need to absorb what happened in Charlottesville, VA

I am a Black woman native of Richmond, VA (born and raised) who is a sociologist and criminologist. My work addresses a range of topics including mental health, suicide and suicidal self-harm, and overall health across demographics. This work must devote even more attention and resources to under-served and under-represented populations.

Therefore, I am writing this piece with a heavy heart. What happened in Charlottesville, VA was not shocking to me. I am accustomed to white-centrism and white supremacy in various forms. I am accustomed to the covert and the overt.

I am accustomed to people being polite and people being professional while also passively aggressively downplaying the need to consistently (not occasionally, not conveniently) reach various demographics and diverse populations.

I am accustomed to whiteness and white heterocentrism being used as a fictional neutral, objective approach to health issues and health services.

This is why….

I hope “mainstream organizations” are able to grasp how incidents like Charlottesville are furthered when “mainstream organizations” engage in tokenism.

If you believe issues such as health can be objectively and neutrally applied, in what tends to equate to a “white people are the standard” approach, your organization is a form of white supremacy.

Yes, you are polite. Yes, you have good intentions.

But you’re the same type of white dominance that has happened for centuries. If you don’t know this and don’t understand this — -you are not informed of historical and contemporary research and social dynamics. That perhaps means you aren’t equipped to have an organization and/or operate an organization.

Rather than being offended and mad at this message — regardless of whether you interpret the tone as professional or unprofessional — you need to look inward.

Ask yourself whether you’ve been told this before. If you haven’t, ask yourself why you haven’t been told this before.

Is it because you are doing the bare minimum to check off your list of “to dos” and make money?

Is it because you see enough smiling faces from the power majority that make you conclude your work is done?

Is it because you are surrounded by “yes” people who are predominantly heterosexual cisgender able-minded able-bodied Christian whites of middle-to-upper socioeconomic status?

Reflect. Reflect. Don’t only be sad about Charlottesville, VA without thinking critically about white-dominance and overall power majority dominance in your organization.

Regardless of intent, the outcome is organizational and institutional dominance and power majority.

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