Wyandot BHN CEO Responds to Death of George Floyd

June 8, 2020

Right now, Black Americans are grieving. The recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is just the most recent event in a centuries-long history of racial discrimination, racial injustice, racial profiling, and police brutality. What happened to George Floyd is horrifying and Wyandot BHN condemns the systemic racism that has been part of our country’s history for far too long. We, as an organization, are committed to supporting the changes necessary to end racism and move toward racial equity.

As the community mental health center serving Wyandotte County, our mission is to help people recover from trauma, including physical and sexual abuse. Yet, Black Americans deal with the trauma stemming from centuries of racial injustice and institutional racism each and every day. This trauma manifests itself on an individual level, as well as at the community level. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others re-traumatize the black community over and over again. Incidents like these reinforce the notion that black lives somehow matter less. If we are to truly impact the health and mental health of those who reside in Wyandotte County, we must address the trauma caused by racism.

In order to do that, those of us with privilege must recognize the need to change. This won’t be easy, but it is necessary. For me, my skin color has never held me back. It has never caused me to be followed around a store. I’ve never had to worry that my life was in danger when I went for a jog.

Simply acknowledging our own privilege isn’t enough. Those of us in positions of privilege, including myself, need to elevate the voices, concerns and pleas for change coming from the black community. We need to have those difficult conversations about race. We need to have those conversations in our homes, in our workplaces, and in our communities. We need to actively confront racism and promote equality through our actions.

At Wyandot BHN, we are having those tough conversations. While they may be uncomfortable, they are necessary if things are ever going to change. Wyandot BHN is committed to providing culturally competent, trauma-informed care. That can only happen when we acknowledge our own privilege and work to understand the experiences and associated trauma that others are dealing with. We promise to listen and to educate ourselves about the lived experiences of the black community in order to provide a safe space that Black Americans can turn to for support. We stand with you. And we are here for you.

Randy Callstrom