By Minoli Ediriweera –
Have you ever thought about why racism is unhealthy? As a Sri Lankan living in the United States, I found that it was a common topic of discussion in the classroom. We spent hours learning about the Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech and studying riots caused by the civil rights movement in the early ’60s. Racism has always been a divisive issue in America, and as a minority I have experienced my fair share of it. But none of it has seemed as polarizing as the current widespread protests across the United States sparked by the Black Lives Matter Movement. It is definitely a moment that will change the course of American history forever.
The United States of America was founded on principles of equality, justice, and freedom on July 4th, 1776. However, it was also founded by white slave-owners who intentionally created a government with discriminatory laws and practices to ensure that they could continue to maintain racial superiority.
After amendments to the U.S. constitution and centuries of struggle, which included a bloody civil war and a powerful civil rights movement, the effects of the institutional racism this country was founded upon are still very apparent in modern-day America.
With the country in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic (which has led to over 100,000 deaths so far) and nation-wide protests sparked by the brutal police killing of a middle-aged black man named George Floyd, the U.S. seems to be falling apart at the seams.
And what these seams are revealing is the reality for many African-Americans in this country: poor health due to their fears of racism and poor access to healthcare to deal with these problems. In fact, it has become such a big problem that American government officials and healthcare boards are pushing for racism to be declared a public health emergency.