UNAC/UHCP Stands with the Floyd Family and All Black People Calling for Justice and Equality

UNAC/UHCP Stands with the Floyd Family and All Black People Calling for Justice and Equality

The past few weeks have been difficult and emotional for many Americans, especially our Black brothers and sisters. We felt a collective horror at watching a man plead for his life as he was murdered. In response, we saw massive, mostly-peaceful protests. In the last few days, we’ve been inspired and encouraged to see the protests swell. They’ve spread across the globe, and from big cities to small towns in the U.S. At the same time, protestors have organized to isolate and marginalize the looters and provocateurs—making it clear they do not represent the movement.

It’s important at this moment in history for whites and other non-Black folks to step up, stand in solidarity, and support our brothers and sisters. This means bringing to bear all our powers as nurses and health care professionals of listening, empathy, and compassion. We must see and hear the pain and anguish of those crying out for justice and equal treatment.

The best of America includes the promise of equality written into our founding documents. The worst of America includes racism specifically targeting Black people—also written into our founding documents, and present in our history long before our founding. We can’t sugarcoat this and we can’t shrink from it.

In our professions, we rely on evidence as we try to improve health and save lives. The evidence is clear that Black people face deadly discrimination every day while doing things many white people take for granted: driving to work, playing in a park, sitting on their own front porch, playing video games with a nephew. Parents must worry when their kids go around the corner to the store or walk to school. Every Black child is educated early about how to reduce the likelihood of being killed by police.

The ugly truth is that violence and repression against Black people in America didn’t magically appear with cell phone video but goes back unbroken to 1619 when the first enslaved people were brought here. It carries through slavery itself, to segregation enforced by the domestic terror of lynchings and mob violence against Black communities, into less visible forms of legal and systemic racism that have created unequal treatment and results between Blacks and whites in every aspect of our lives: housing, education, finance, food distribution, criminal sentencing and law enforcement, the militarization of our police, and, sadly, health care.

Our entire country is wrestling right now with two public health crises at the same time: a worldwide pandemic from a new virus, and a dramatic flare-up from the effects of a disease which has been with us for centuries.

It’s not hard to see how the mental health effects of having to worry about dying or even suffering everyday microaggressions at any time for any reason must be staggering. This trauma impacts all Black Americans their whole lives. It exacerbates other health conditions. Indeed, it has been widely studied and identified as a public health crisis. It is implicated in all of the health inequities we see affecting Black Americans, including higher infection and death rates due to COVID-19. Remember: what hurts my neighbor, hurts me.

Now, our Black brothers and sisters, along with numerous allies of all ages and demographics, are peacefully protesting across the nation and the world. They’re doing what we as unionists feel empowered to do—speaking out against injustice; and what we as health care professionals are called to do—advocate for life, health and safety. These are fundamental human rights.

So, we must continue to protest peacefully and push for the change that’s long overdue in this country. And we have to vote in November. We need leaders up and down the ballot who will address systemic racism. It’s not going to be easy or quick. But it’s time to step up and demand better. Otherwise, all our lofty ideals of what it means to be an American fall flat.

UNAC/UHCP will take active, substantive steps toward these goals in the short-term and long-term. When the protestors have gone home and the streets have been cleaned up, we will not be among those who forget and move on.

It’s important for us to hear and take direction from those who live these issues. We need your voices. We need members and staff to participate at all levels. What makes these marches across the globe powerful is that they’re community marches. UNAC/UHCP’s strength is our unity as a diverse and widespread community, and we must draw on this strength in charting our course of action.

In recent days we have found inspiration in our own Mission Statement:

We are UNAC/UHCP and we believe everyone deserves a chance to live a full, healthy life.

This is our work and always has been. Now is the time for bold steps that carry this mission forward.

Here is the full UNAC/UHCP Mission Statement for those seeking guidance and inspiration:


We are 32,000 registered nurses and health care workers united to build a better workplace and a healthier world.

We are advocates at the bedside and beyond. We believe empowering caregivers through a union leads not just to higher-quality and safer care, but also benefits our communities.

We recognize that individual health is tied to the well-being of our communities and the earth itself. When our neighbors have homes and safety, decent jobs with a fair wage, access to clean air and water, nutritious food and open spaces, we are less likely to see them as patients. We know our work doesn’t stop when we clock out. Many of us volunteer to help vulnerable members of our community and improve the lives of those outside of hospitals.

We know that access to equitable health care matters. We fight for universal coverage because we’ve seen the dire consequences of delayed diagnosis and treatment.

We are UNAC/UHCP and we believe everyone deserves a chance to live a full, healthy life.