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In Solidarity by Dr. Khan, Executive Director June 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. on inequality in health

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have once again laid bare the legacy of racism, violence, marginalization, and injustice against Black Americans that has plagued our nation since before its inception. We at Neighborhood Health stand in solidarity with the Black community and against systemic racism and injustice.

Our national history of racism has led to deep-rooted inequities, leading to disparities in income, access to education and housing, criminal justice, and many other facets of American life. It has also resulted in significant disparities in both health and access to health care. The current COVID-19 crisis is highlighting these inequities in stark terms. The virus has disproportionately infected and claimed the lives of ethnic and racial minorities in communities across this country.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.” Our organization was formed twenty-three years ago to address health inequities here in Northern Virginia. Over the years, our focus has not wavered. We remain deeply committed to ensuring that everyone, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable in our community, has access to high quality health care.

Yet, it is through this work with our patients and community that we have come to understand that while access to health care is critical, it is not enough. Underlying factors such as poverty, discrimination, and lack of opportunity ultimately impact their health and well being as much if not more than the health care that they receive. Thus, while we work to expand access to health care, it is incumbent on us to demand deeper structural changes.

We must all work harder to overcome racism, violence, marginalization, and injustice against Black people in our community. We must work harder to engage, to listen, and to learn. We must come together, display compassion, and lift each other up. We must be willing to advocate for and implement difficult changes.

In order to achieve health equity – the essence of our mission – we must dismantle racism in all its forms.

In solidarity,

Basim Khan, MD, MPA

Executive Director