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A Letter from the PHC Board: What We Stand For

As the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, one of Partners for a Healthier Community's strategic goals is to advance racial justice. In 2014, we released the first Springfield Health Equity Report highlighting alarming racial and ethnic health disparities for many social determinants of health such as housing, education and access to food, as well as health outcomes such as asthma, diabetes and teen pregnancy.

Our Board of Directors felt compelled this fall to communicate their concern and intolerance of hateful and racist discourse that has been more public in the nation’s media.  We are hoping that you will share our statement of "Where We Stand" as a means of rejecting hurtful speech, inviting others to stand with us in stating that hateful rhetoric should not be tolerated, and denouncing attempts to divide us, and rather stand together for the health of all of us.

Add your name!

We invite you to join with us in supporting a positive dialogue on racial justice.

To view a list of names of those who have taken a stand with us please click here.

What We Stand For

“Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”  - Coretta Scott King

The Board of Directors of Partners for a Healthier Community, made up of diverse leaders in the region, believes strongly that all people deserve an equitable opportunity to pursue their life’s dreams and goals. For this reason, we join with other groups across the United States to stand up against hate and all political rhetoric that seek to target and undermine anyone based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, cultural practices, and/or other dimensions of diversity in society.

Political slogans can fuel fear and hate of the “other.” Divisive tone and tenor leads to a toxic atmosphere and environment that undermines authentic relationships among various groups.  Labeling groups as the “other” creates barriers and blame by attributing responsibility for societal problems to other groups of people based on their race, class, culture, and religious beliefs.

Partners for a Healthier Community takes a stand against all political rhetoric and hate-filled speech that reinforces social divisions and makes light of deeply rooted institutional hatred based upon race and limited access to power among people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and religious communities, most notably those who are of the Islamic faith. The use of such language is a tactic that has been used historically by demagogues that seek to appeal to individuals who feel disenfranchised and marginalized as the wage and wealth gap widens between the elite, middle class, working class, and poor.

We believe that we are all threatened when we divide ourselves into us versus them. When we allow divisions to happen, our very democratic principles are undermined; we limit the opportunity for genuine relationships and collaboration to flourish where creative solutions are forged to narrow instead of widen social and economic inequities.

We are living in complex, unsettling, and increasingly polarized times.  As the region’s only accredited public health institute, we are especially concerned about the serious and real public health challenges facing our local communities as well as our nation. We see the evidence of this play out daily: lead poisoned water in Flint Michigan; opioid addiction and deaths due to overdose in all our communities; young men of color disproportionately incarcerated; mass shootings; school violence; and our soldiers returning from wars with physical and mental injuries. It is therefore critical that we have innovative and competent leaders who will forge lasting solutions to these systemic injustices based on the truly needed values of equity, public health and opportunity for all and who will bring people together to collectively solve our problems.

Partners for a Healthier Community is a public health institute with a mission to build measurably healthy communities with equitable opportunities and resources for all through civic leadership, collaborative partnerships, and policy advocacy. Our commitment is to improve the public’s health in the western Massachusetts region by fostering innovation, leveraging resources, building partnerships across sectors to improve public health, health care structures/systems, and addressing racial and ethnic disparities and inequities resulting in poor health outcomes. In addition, we commit to support undoing racism and have ensured that our board members and staff have been trained in anti-racism efforts. At our board meetings we routinely discuss the impact of structural and institutional racism and how it contributes to health inequities.  We encourage others to adopt these practices, and stand with us against hate and all political candidates that seek to target and undermine groups based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or cultural practices.  We urge the public and all candidates for local, state, and federal office to support solutions that better our public health and to stand against divisive campaign tactics and language that seeks to divide our communities.  We deserve better.

Board of Directors, Partners for a Healthier Community, Inc.