A Letter from our President

RE: Troubling Times in America

June 10, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters,
We have certainly faced a few months like none other in our lifetimes. We continue to struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic and, while Americans have made great strides in slowing the spread of this deadly virus, we still have a long road ahead to fully eradicate this novel coronavirus. We still know very little about Covid-19, but one very important piece of data continues to make its way to headlines: coronavirus kills black Americans at disproportionately higher rates than other groups.

Pair this with other major events occurring across the country and there is no question as to why the nation has erupted in both peaceful and violent protests. May 25, 2020 – the day George Floyd was senselessly and brutally murdered under the knee of a negligent policeman – will go down in history. This is a day that sparked an uprising not only of African American communities, but communities of every race, ethnicity, religion, and culture, as well as political and religious leaders, business owners, emergency responders and even law enforcement. America has said “enough is enough.”

And we must continue to work together to dismantle the racial injustice that continues to claim the lives of innocent African Americans. We must fight for greater accountability for police and all leaders, and we must bridge common  understandings as strategies in the aftermath. As medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American College of Physicians have collectively highlighted, racism is a public health issue. The AAP released a statement in 2019 about the
impact of racism on child and adolescent health and recently tweeted that “systemic violence requires systemic response.” We must work toward addressing the health disparities by eradicating racism and vice versa.

But it won’t be easy. We are incredibly grateful for other groups and individuals that have stood with us in solidarity in helping to raise attention for this very important issue. On a national level, the apology and recognition of the NFL regarding its past reaction to players protesting against the deaths of innocent black men and women is big news for America – it means our voices are amplified. And at a local level, the bold actions of Mayor Muriel Bowser, who authorized the painting of “Black Lives Matter” on 16th Street near the White House and the renaming of the corner of 16th and H streets to “Black Lives Matter Plz NW,” is commendable and has taken back ownership of the streets for peaceful protests that aim to put an end to police brutality.

We’ve got lots of work to do, but we remain committed to doing our part at local, national and global levels. We hope you’ll join us.

Clayton G. Lawrence, MD, MA, BA