The 2020 Election: Recover and Recommit

The 2020 election is coming to a close in historic fashion, and many of us are recuperating from several long and exhausting months. So many of you gave time, energy, money, prayers, and countless emotions to the process this year and the years leading up to it. For that, we are deeply grateful. 

We congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on their hard-fought win and are encouraged by some early signs of their commitment to policies that will advance racial equity. Beyond the historic selection of Kamala Harris as the country’s first female, first Black, and first South Asian vice president-elect, we’re also encouraged to see racial equity listed as one of the administration’s top four priorities, alongside COVID-19, economic prosperity, and climate change. Given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, we’re also pleased health equity expert Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith has been named co-chair of the Biden/Harris COVID Task Force. 

Many of the down-ballot races also moved us closer to a body of elected officials that more accurately represents the constituents of our country and policies that strengthen our communities: Missouri elected its first African-American woman and Black Lives Matter activist to the House of Representatives; all five New Mexico House members are women of color for the first time in the state’s history; Florida voted for $15/hour minimum wage, and Colorado voters backed the creation of a family and medical leave system

While we have made progress toward representation and equity in this election cycle and we have seen anti-racist activism reach new levels over these past four years, we have so much more to do. We must listen to the Black, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and other voters of color who were key to the Biden/Harris victory, yet continue to suffer from racial health disparities. Our country is still painfully divided, for deeply systemic reasons. From redlining to mass incarceration to the marginalization of Indigenous nations, Democrats and Republicans alike have been responsible for policies throughout the history of this country that have created barriers for communities of color while clearly advantaging white communities. We have not just four years of damage to repair, but lifetimes of racism and dysfunction in our systems that’s been breeding and harming our health, dignity, and wellbeing for generations. This is the next in a long line of movements necessary for us to reckon with our history and the healing we will need to move forward. 

Health Leads’ mission continues, and would have regardless of the outcome of this election. Undoing years of systemic racism that impacts everyone’s health is multi-generational work. We are in this for the long haul. And we know that so many of you are too. The energy around our health equity innovation projects in communities across the U.S., and the deep commitment from our philanthropic partners, proves that to us every single day.  

Thank you for staying in this. The outcome of this election may open doors and opportunities for much-needed progress toward racial equity, and we have put important, productive miles behind us over the past four years. But we hope you can take the time you need to recover and recommit to the fight for health, dignity and well-being.