Social and Economic Justice is On the Line

A message from Frances G. Padilla

President, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

Frances Padilla.jpg

Our mission is to serve as a catalyst that engages residents and communities in shaping a democratic health system that provides universal access to quality, affordable health care and promotes health in Connecticut. We believe that health care is a fundamental right and that our work is part of a broader movement for social and economic justice.

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend threaten social and economic justice to its very core. Just in July, the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated on the New Haven Green. As the title of Sinclair Lewis’ book, It Can’t Happen Here suggests, it can happen here too!

Throwback to Another Time

I was a kid in 1968 when race riots broke out nationwide, and when I first read The Diary of Anne Frank. After almost 40 years working on social justice issues, on Saturday I felt the same pang in the pit of my stomach that I felt at the age of 10. Fear and profound sadness. Except that I also felt completely pissed off.  It feels like we make no progress and I live in dread for my multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual family, friends and community.

The Browning of America

I thought about my cousin and her two adult children, who live in Virginia. They moved there from Puerto Rico a few years ago. Like Guam, Puerto Rico is a colony of the U.S. and we Puerto Ricans have been citizens for a century. But my cousin’s highly educated kids speak English with an accent and she doesn’t speak English well at all.  They too are the targets of extremists. It doesn’t matter whether you have legal immigration status or not. What matters to these people is that America has “browned” and they don’t want their daughters and sons having brown babies, as recent comments by the Governor of Maine implied.

The news cycle of the past 48 hours has dwelled on how the white supremacists were armed, and in fact, out-armed the Charlottesville police. It was hard to distinguish police from “protesters.”  The Virginia Governor defends his policing by saying that “except for the car terrorist incident” local and state police handled the armed “protesters” and not one shot was fired.  What if the organizers had been black and brown?

Look Inside to Move Forward

The United States continues to live its dilemma. On the one hand, we hold the value of fairness very dear and have a strong charitable impulse, but we also have a deep streak of selfishness and righteousness. I believe this is rooted in the Calvinist tradition that poverty or sickness is the result of some moral failing and lack of personal responsibility.  Even people originally from other countries often adopt this attitude.  And the President is building his legacy on it.  We all need to look inside ourselves for how much of that white Anglo-Saxon American identity we own. And we need to name it if we are to change.

The Foundation remains committed to doing better ourselves, as individuals and as an organization. We remain committed to working on racial justice and equity with diverse partners.  In our work through the Protect Our Care Connecticut campaign we seek to connect a broad cross-section of people in our state to one another, united around the common goal of health care for everyone, regardless of color, creed, gender identity, political persuasion or zip-code.

Act today. Connect with us.

www.universalhealthct.org

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For more ways to get involved, visit the following:

Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut

http://connecticut.adl.org/

The CT Puerto Rican Agenda

http://www.ctpuertoricanagenda.com/

Moral Mondays CT

https://moralmondayct.org/

Black Lives Matter

http://blacklivesmatter.com/find-chapters/

Muslim Coalition of Connecticut:

http://www.muslimcoalitionct.org/uploads/6/5/5/1/6551941/mcct_newsletter_july_2017_final_2.pdf

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