May 29, 2020
Before closing the week, I want to acknowledge the turmoil and pain our nation is currently experiencing. The killing of yet another unarmed black man and the social unrest that has followed—all against the backdrop of a devastating pandemic—are chilling events. We can only hope this leads to action and positive change.
We at Guttmacher are outraged and deeply saddened by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
We are outraged that police took this man’s life. And we are outraged because this is not a unique incident. It is, in fact, just another instance of what happens far too often across our country: the killing of black people by the police.
Indeed, we need not look a thousand miles to the west of Guttmacher’s New York office to find evidence of this grim pattern of racism. Right here in our own backyard, a white woman in Central Park invoked centuries of stereotypes and the threat of police violence against a black man—actions that could have resulted in that man’s incarceration or death. And we are speaking here only of incidents that happened to have been caught on camera in the last week.
Racial violence is not unusual; these events are not one-offs. Discrimination, microaggressions, over-policing and state violence against people of color are not new. Only the ability to document them in real time is.
We stand in solidarity with the black community in Minneapolis and communities across the country who are saying, “no more.” We stand with those in our own communities—particularly our Reproductive Justice allies—who have shown us how state violence against black men and women and health inequities that hurt people of color (from the medical system’s long history of experimentation on black women to the current appallingly high rates of maternal death among black women) are not separate threads, but are part of the same tapestry of racism.
We are heartened by the images of so many white people protesting. The reality is that meaningful change won’t come if white folks leave the work to people of color. These voices must grow into a unified chorus that is impossible to ignore.
Finally, we stand with our colleagues of color—particularly our black colleagues—at this time. While incidents like the ones we’ve witnessed in the last week are deeply saddening to all of us, I know that they hit home for people of color in a way that others cannot possibly comprehend.
Let us not avert our gaze. Let us watch and bear witness, and let us say their names: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others.
Most importantly, let us use this moment to galvanize our resolve to fight for racial justice and equity, to lift up the contributions of our own colleagues of color, to support our allies leading the cause for Reproductive Justice, and to work toward ending racism in reproductive health care and society.
With sadness and strength,
Dr. Herminia Palacio
President and CEO