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AN OPEN LETTER TO WADE NORWOOD

Dear Mr. Norwood,

Howard Eagle

Why would you produce yet another “extensive, new study” regarding the impact of racism? How many studies do we need before folks actually do something about “the devastating toll of racism on Black lives?” We’re still digesting the City/County collaborative RASE Report, which deals with racism in health care, as well as eight (8) other key areas of life.

Hopefully, your report is not about the widespread phenomenon by which every “service” organization in town seems to be trying to position themselves to get a piece of the unprecedentedly-MASSIVE amounts of resources that are about to flood this slavish community via CARES ACT funding, most of which—if the past is an accurate indicator and unless Divine intervention occurs—will not reach those who are most in need. Shameful is a gross understatement.

With all due respect, and yes I really do mean it, there is no doubt that (as you noted) “racism is an uncomfortable word for many,” especially and particularly many white folks; which is, I suppose, the main reason why when most Black people, and other people of color, especially professionals, discuss the devastating, life-threatening, Tripartite Beast And Illness (openly and publicly), frequently—and in fact, almost always—they seem to feel the need to tip-toe through the anti-racist-mine-field (in fear, of triggering massive fragility and deep-seated, race-based cognitive dissonance).

However, to continue diplomatically sugar-coating the nature, essence, functioning, manifestations and overall impact of the beast and illness, (in my unequivocally staunch and informed view), represents a disservice to those who are most directly, and most devastatingly impacted, and who suffer the most, as a result of half-hearted attempts relative to a final solution.

With regard to potentially effective solutions concerning old, deep-seated, thoroughly entrenched, historic, socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural issues and problems intellectuals understand that if we do not begin with a thoroughly, objectively, accurate premise relative to understanding the nature and essence of the problem or issue at hand, it’s just not likely, in fact it’s highly unlikely that we will arrive at an effective, (“final”) solution, and will therefore find ourselves going round-and-round, and producing half-hearted efforts, and therefore half-hearted “solutions” for another two or three hundred years, or longer.

So, to effectively address individual, institutional, and structural racism—which are thoroughly bound up together, completely intertwined and totally inseparable from one another, in health care, and/or any other major area of life—it is important that we begin with language that represents, frames the issues properly. For example, where many are concerned, expressions such as the idea that “structural racism needs no villain” is probably crowd-pleasing, but at the same time, is also potentially problematic (in the sense that it could easily leave listeners and/or readers with the erroneous impression that structural racism is abstract, innocuous, and that maybe it fell from the sky, grew from the ground, or rolled in from the sea.

Let’s be clear, structural racism was created by man (literally white man), and has been, and is being perpetuated, reinforced, propped up, and maintained by people of many stripes via racist policies, practices, procedures, rules, regulations and laws, which represents the foundation upon which structural racism is based, and continues to function.

There’s absolutely nothing mysterious, abstract, and definitely nothing innocuous about racism. In fact, you acknowledged that racism is “embedded in our social-economic, and political (and cultural) systems,” but then you turned right around and committed what I refer to as the cardinal sin of anti-racist work, by attempting to advance the position that the reason why racism “is so persistent and devastating is not because it’s something that individuals and institutions choose to do.” WHAT???!!!

The latter idea turns reality on its head. The reason racism continues to be so persistent is exactly because of what individuals and institutions choose to do, full stop.

I must say that your latter-referenced assertion appears to pander to those who are fragilistic. Some of us hope that the reason why you are apparently reluctant to offer total honesty and objective facts (and hurt the fragile feelings of some) is not related to finance—because if that is the case then we have to begin inquiring about the possibility of peonage.

~Howard Eagle

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(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)