Genesis Club Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Effect Change
On May 25th George Floyd died – his neck pinned for 8 minutes and 46 seconds under the knee of a police officer as a helpless crowd watched and shouted to the group of four police officers, “You’re killing him!”
The details of his passing are gruesome, speaking volumes to the inhumanity of the manner in which he died. His life taken by an officer whose oath was to protect and serve, an officer under whose knee he took his last breath; his last moments screaming despite the callous disregard shown by the three officers who stood by silently and did nothing.
Many of us have seen and heard the video recording of his last moments and for many it has been traumatic. It calls to our own unheard cries for justice and equitable treatment. It speaks to our own instinct to protect and, for those in the mental health care world, it speaks to the cries of people who are historically, systematically, and repeatedly denied basic human rights.
As we watch the nation come alive with protest in the midst COVID-19 to condemn and combat the even deadlier pandemic of systemic racism, we cannot look away. Not from police brutality and not from the scourge of racism that has kept black, brown and people of color away from engaging in systems of care. We know too well that people in a mental health crisis often experience violence at the hands of law enforcement officers. As a community founded on the principles of dignity, equity and inclusion, we cannot be silent. Silence will not support the Black members of our community; who face not only overt acts of racist violence, but who also lack the spaces in which to exhale, unplug, and process that trauma.
We reiterate the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “…Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
One in four people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. The enormity of that number has always mobilized Genesis Club to act decisively and with urgency. Our mission has always been to support our members to reclaim their rightful place in society through employment, education, wellness, housing, and friendships.
Yet, for all our urgency we recognize that for many people who are Black, brown or people of color, the decision to even seek mental health support is difficult as it requires breaking through the stigma of mental illness and the systemic racism inherent in the healthcare system.
We stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters who continue to experience racial Injustice. We see you, we hear you, and we stand with you. We pledge to increase our efforts to reach out to, listen to, and respond to the needs of Black people in our community living with a mental health condition, as is the mission of Genesis Club.