Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Local 5000, AFT, AFL, CIO Statement on Black Lives Matter
WFNHP stands in absolute solidarity with our community seeking justice for the countless and senseless deaths of Black people across the world. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the latest painful symptoms of the underlying condition of systemic racism in America. The institutions in our country that are supposed to protect and serve, deliver justice, and keep us healthy have failed the Black and Brown communities time and again because they were never truly designed to work for those communities. This sad revelation is not shocking when we understand that colonization of native lands and people was perpetuated by government funded civilian militias. This land was then worked by enslaved Africans who were hunted by slave patrols, which serve as the foundations for our modern police. The abolition of slavery gave way to segregation and discrimination in housing, healthcare, and education. This has necessitated a never ending struggle for human rights, the aims of which have never been fully realized. As we wrestle with a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a crisis of justice, we can create a better world if we act with intention and acknowledge the difficult truths that have been thrust upon our consciousness like never before.
Our home, Wisconsin, reflects these disparate experiences. We are the home to two of the worst cities in America to be a Black person and the stark racial health disparities between Black and white communities as evidenced in study after study, which have been brought home most recently by the impacts of COVID-19. These disparities are reinforced when healthcare systems decide to chase “lucrative private insurance arrangements,” investing money into the predominantly white suburban areas of southeast Wisconsin instead of providing healthcare based on the needs of the communities they claim to serve. To be clear, there is one hospital on the predominantly Black northside of MIlwaukee, and our union has been part of the fight to preserve and expand its services.
This is to say, these results are the product of intentional decisions. The time has come for new results. We can remedy these disparities with intentional decisions and a devotion to delivering justice over maintaining order.
Right now, those in power must listen to those who are demanding to be heard. Budgets at every level should prioritize health, education, and quality of life above all else, which means, for example, that the Milwaukee Police Department should no longer account for 47% of the City of Milwaukee’s budget.This is a tall task but we all have a role to play.
The words "I can't breathe" sound an alarm in the heart of health professionals. When that phrase rings in our ears, we drop everything to save a life. Our Black siblings across the world are sounding this alarm and as healthcare professionals, we have a duty to respond in a way that saves lives. Will you join us?
Black lives matter.