The recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police officers sworn to protect and serve is an all too familiar reminder of the inequities and unacceptable indignities that so many people of color continually endure. While Ohio’s entire public health community is heart-sickened and mourns the loss of Mr. Floyd, we must not be frozen by our collective fears and anxieties, but use his memory as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and redouble efforts to make systemic and lasting change in our communities.
We should be reminded that just several days before this tragic event, the board of health and county commissioners of Ohio’s largest county, Franklin, declared racism as a public health crisis. It was a foreshadowing of things to come for sure, but also an overdue acknowledgement by the county’s leadership of a festering societal wound. Mr. Floyd’s death has stripped away the blood-soaked bandage and ignited the anger and frustrations felt across this nation by those who are often victims and by those who refuse to remain silent to these human injustices.
Now is the time for bold leadership. We have shown a strong resolve in our fight against COVID-19 and this unwavering commitment must continue as we battle the clear and present danger of racism. The Ohio Public Health Association realizes there is plenty of work to do and asks all its partners to join forces in seeking equality and justice for all Ohioans. Let us together tear down the oppressive walls of institutional racism and begin building a better community where all have an equitable opportunity to freely breathe.
Yours in this work,
OPHA Executive Board President