An Open Letter from CEO Maria Thacker-Goethe

Dear Members and Partners:
There has been a pattern of social injustice toward the Black community and communities of color for too long. I have spent these recent trying days in dialogue with young community leaders, personal friends and business colleagues who are in pain, confused, scared and angry.

In these calls, we have shared together that what we are seeing here and across our country is the kind of anger that comes after justice is denied for hundreds of years.  We have shared together our common sense of shock and profound sadness with the racial violence and injustice that have played out in our country over the past few months.  We have shared together that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery lost their lives because of a pandemic of racism that, unlike COVID-19, is not invisible, and we see it far too much. And finally, while the protests of the past week have increased awareness of the need for social justice, we have also shared that we face together a long and difficult journey to heal this country and to realize its noble aspirations of justice and dignity for all.

There are colleagues and friends within your circles who are hurting right now. They may not speak their pain directly to you, but your black colleagues are experiencing something profound. I am a bi-racial female who has experienced reminders my whole life that I am different, yet I too must listen to, and learn from, those who have faced systemic injustice since the day they were born. I encourage you to listen to them, provide grace and seek to truly understand why they feel the way that they do. Their feelings of pain, hurt and frustration deserve to be heard.

As CEO of the Center for Global Health Innovation, I have the additional responsibility of leading an organization founded in part on the principle that through advances in, and access to, science, technology and medicine, we strive ever closer to achieving global health equity. Health is, in fact, a fundamental right of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, or socio-economic status. It is core to our beliefs that we stand with our nation’s peaceful protests for justice and believe that Black Lives Matter. Yet, we must constantly test our principles and challenge ourselves to do more and be more effective and inclusive, both in thought and action.

To that end, that Center for Global Health Innovation has taken the following action:

  1. In collaboration with the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center, we have launched a multi-sector testing alliance to bring much-needed coronavirus testing to underserved communities. This growing collaborative, founded in partnership with CORE ResponseMedshareAllCare, and Reliant Health Services, will most immediately focus on those who have lent their voices to this long overdue movement. People around the world have taken to the streets in righteous outrage risking health, imprisonment, unemployment, judgement and physical violence. In doing so, they’ve also risked exposing themselves and others to COVID-19. Tomorrow, there will be a testing site in Atlanta with intentions to grow to other cities.
  2. Stay-tuned for details on a series of conversations on structural racism in a time of COVID we will host in partnership with ARCHI, the Partnership for Southern Equity, and Transformation Alliance.

As a mother, I live in the reality that all the handwashing, face masks and sheltering-in-place in the world won’t help protect our children from racism. All of us need to do our part at home, in our organizations and in our communities. We must lead with courage and values. We must lead with actions, not just words, even when the hard truths make us uncomfortable.

We are here for you. We are listening. We will not be silent.

Maria Thacker-Goethe
President and CEO
Center for Global Health Innovation
Atlanta, Georgia