A letter to the community

The social injustices and civil unrest in our region and across our county are inescapable, no matter your racial, political, or other identity. Our hearts are heavy for all the lives impacted by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others. The abrupt deaths of our Black neighbors in this country are the very definition of individual and collective trauma. These inequities and traumas are deeply rooted in our past and are reminders of another deadly virus that plagues our society: racial disparity and despair.

As a coalition of community organizations, institutions, and individuals dedicated to reducing the impact of trauma and enhancing the resilience of those who call Erie County home, we stand united against racism, oppression, and hate in all of its forms.

Long before the death of George Floyd and the current pandemic that disproportionately kills black people, doctors and researchers have acknowledged the trauma of racism and the adverse mental and physical health impact on black and brown people. We know that if we are not addressing racism, we are not addressing trauma.  As a coalition, we are committed to the pursuit of racial justice and the well-being of the members of our community.

Trauma in Erie County has many forms. Trauma looks like community and domestic violence, a drug epidemic and overdose deaths, household dysfunction, sudden loss, and abuse and neglect. In more subtle, but chronic ways, trauma in Erie County also looks like health and economic disparities. More than 55 years after the Civil Rights Act that outlawed racial segregation and other forms of discrimination, Erie is considered one of the top 25 most livable small cities in the Country, according to an online study from Smartasset.com; however, Erie is still ranked by the 24/7 Wall Street as one of the top 15 worst cities for Black Americans, “due to the large disparities between black and white residents in terms of income, health, and other socioeconomic measures in the city.”  Clearly, change is needed to help Erie be experienced as livable by all its residents.

In his report titled, A Pain-filled, Polarized America: Reflections, Recommendations on Racism in U.S., Erie; Erie’s own Dr. Parris Baker states that, “it is interesting and ironic that both viruses, racism and COVID 19, are transmitted through human-to-human contact. Moreover, each will require Americans to change personal attitudes and behaviors to prevent further transmission of the viruses.”

Dehumanizing and traumatizing experiences can literally impact our biology and physical health, not to mention how we see ourselves, our relationships, and the world. Seeing these experiences from a more trauma-informed perspective prompts compassion, empathy, and promotes healing. “Rather than hoping a child is tough enough to endure the insurmountable, we must build resilient places – healthier, safer, more nurturing and just - where all children can thrive,” wrote Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Building individual resilience builds community resilience: the kind we need to overcome the past and pave the way for a more positive future where members of the Erie Community can face adversity with  newfound hope and an understanding of what is just.

As ambassadors of hope, but more so as concerned citizens, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just and reconciled society in which community members can heal and realize their full potential.

We are intentionally committed to those black and brown residents that have been historically and systemically under served, underrepresented, marginalized, injured, or killed because of the individual and institutional racism that exists in our country and community.

ECTIC is working to develop a new strategic plan. While the plan is under construction, we are confidently committed to:

  • Examining and acting to change any ways that we are complicit in white supremacy.

  • Listening to learn more about inequities, and social injustice experienced in Erie County.

  • Identifying and communicating resources for community members experiencing trauma.

  • Creating training opportunities and community events that are culturally and racially relevant and responsive.

  • Partnering with the community to develop and take actionable steps in reducing all forms of individual and community trauma.

  • Advocating at all levels of leadership and legislature within our reach to shape and develop policies and practices that are anti-racist, and as a result, more trauma informed. 

 

We believe everyone has a role to play in making our society just for Erie County residents. We are eager to do our part in this charge for change and invite any willing community members to join us.

 

In solidarity,

Your ECTIC Executive Committee and Diversity & Belonging Work Group

©2019 by Erie Coalition for a Trauma Informed Community.
Erie County
Pennsylvania