Posted on March 15, 2021 by Origins Behavioral HealthCare
Many of the events that have taken place over the past year have illustrated our need, as a nation, to confront issues associated with racism that continue to divide us, and to do so with a commitment to understanding each other.
The emergence of “Black Lives Matter”, not only as an organization but as a movement, was born out of a need to advocate for a segment of American society that feels exploited, undervalued, and mistreated. This movement has created much debate and controversy with many critics pointing to acts of violence committed upon black people by black people as an argument that if black lives don’t matter to black people, why should they matter to anyone else? Which is an argument that actually illustrates the need to emphasize the importance of black lives.
I shared with him a bit of my personal journey as a black man born in 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. I explained that throughout my young life in the 1950s, I heard reports on the radio of black people being attacked by police and police dogs as they protested for basic civil rights. In the 1960s I watched news reports on TV with my parents and with my older brothers, of the assassination of black civil rights leaders who were advocating for equitable treatment in hiring, education, housing, and voting rights. In the ‘70s as one of a very few black kids in predominately white middle and high schools, I became much more aware of the economic and social impact of these inequities, but couldn’t quite grasp the psychological and emotional impact those experiences had on my generation or the generations before and after mine.
I shared with him that my paternal grandfather, who was born in 1882, raised five kids during times that had to be much tougher for black people than what I experienced. And that his father, who was born in 1852, was born into slavery.
How traumatic must life have been for my great grandfather, my grandfather, and my father who was born in 1918. As my friend began to compare my ancestors and their history to the accomplishments of his ancestors, who immigrated to America from Europe, I had to stop him, and remind him that the first African American didn’t come to this country with luggage, voluntarily seeking a better life. Regardless of who facilitated slaves being brought to America, it was by force. Their traumatic experiences were passed on to their children, grandchildren, and great grand- children.
He suddenly understood that for so many years there have been very clear, undeniable examples that black lives don’t matter. For some, that means no lives matter, which is why we must find ways to demonstrate to people that they matter, regardless of how they look, or who they choose to love.
I ended our chat by thanking him for caring enough to listen to me without judging, because it has become clear that those who care will seek understanding, and those who don’t, won’t.
Because of this, I am honored and thrilled to be chosen as a Board Member for NAATP as well as a member of NAATP’s incredible Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The work that NAATP has done to advocate for diversity and inclusion in treatment is nothing short of transformational, and I believe it will have far reaching impacts on our industry as a whole. I am grateful to work for an organization like Origins, which has one of the most diverse clinical and administrative teams in our industry, and am privileged to continue to strive to bring diversity to the addiction recovery industry. It is my hope that together we can bring a sense of unity and understanding to all those we encounter, regardless of their color.