CAHC Director Alison Chopel writes about recent events in #Charlottesville and beyond, and how and why CAHC and PHI stand against white supremacy and racism as a public health issue.
Racism pervades our lives on a daily basis, and as a program that serves youth and communities of color, we must do our best to confront it, and especially to support the young leaders who fight against hatred in their communities. A first step is to speak out against it. White supremacist groups are not “just” racist—they are known terrorists and they engage in both psychological and physical violence. They injure people and communities. When they are permitted to gather and demonstrate in public, they are engaging in recruitment efforts, and targeting adolescents, many of whom have multiple reasons to be angry and to feel isolated and disenfranchised.
Christian Piccolini, founder of Life After Hate, in an interview with Amy Goodman, described this process:
“I’m a firm believer that ideology isn’t what radicalizes people. I think it’s the search for identity, community and a sense of purpose. And if there’s some sort of brokenness, a void underneath that in your life—and it could be trauma or addiction or mental health issues, anything that would hold you back or deviate your path from the intended one that you were on—you tend to look for acceptance in negative pathways.”
This is why the work that CAHC, our partners and other youth development organizations do across the country is essential to the health of our national psyche.
Mary Pittman, CEO of the Public Health Institute, describes the connection between health and racism. Please check out her full statement on the PHI website:
"The social determinants of health are foundational to public health work, as research shows that the conditions that surround us shape and influence our health. And the evidence points to one particularly powerful set of social determinants: racism and other forms of oppression. Systemic racism (such as policies that intentionally lock people of color out of housing or business loans), and individual racism (like targeted hate crimes), have deep and long lasting impacts on individual health and equity and broader societal illness. Racism has been linked to physical conditions like higher blood pressure—even among teens—and other stress-related illnesses, as our ACES research has also confirmed. From a public health perspective, racism and oppression can be deadly.”