The murders of nine African-American worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, are the latest in a long, ugly trail of intolerance, injustice, and death that has befallen communities of color across America. These killings come in the wake of outrages in Ferguson, Staten Island and Baltimore.
In this tragedy, however, there is a ray of hope. Confederate flags, long a symbol of bigotry and violence, came down en masse. The demise of this despised symbol beyond the borders of Charleston, into other states where these flags flew unfurled for generations, is a bittersweet victory.
New committee formed
We are outraged by racially-motivated assaults here in New York and elsewhere and we are turning our outrage into action.
In the aftermath of these horrific recent events, NYSNA’s HHC/Mayorals Executive Council acted swiftly, proposing that the NYSNA Board of Directors adopt a resolution forming the Committee for Social Justice and Civil Rights of the New York State Nurses Association. The resolution was passed with unanimous consent on June 21.
The formation of this committee is a natural extension of our mission. NYSNA is built upon a pillar of social justice that begins with a commitment to end healthcare disparities in New York and throughout the nation. We often talk about how our commitment extends beyond the bedside — to all aspects of life in our communities that impact the health and well-being of our patients. The Committee for Social Justice is an expression of the broad commitment to community and a formal platform for action.
The Committee’s first act will be to add NYSNA’s voice to unresolved issues surrounding the Eric Garner case and the national outcry against the June 17 killings in Charleston, and subsequent church burnings. More broadly, it will take steps to identify and address acts of violence against minorities; to find ways to end discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, immigration status, disability, and sexual orientation; to close the gaps in social, economic and political disparities that continue to impact the health of our patients; and to once and for all end the conditions of racial discrimination that continue to define our nation.
Its work will focus on member and community education and coalition building with like-minded organizations with the aim of eliminating injustices and seeking their redress.
Work to be done
All interested members are encouraged to participate and contribute to this new and critical part of NYSNA’s work. Check www.nysna.org for information on when and where the Committee will meet.
The Committee for Social Justice and Civil Rights of the New York State Nurses Association will play a prominent and important role in NYSNA’s future. It is a vehicle for NYSNA members to engage in the dialogue that must take place in neighborhoods across our nation and to take action to heal the long-festering wounds of racial discrimination and injustice.