Statement by Vivent Health President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Gifford on the Attempted Murder of Jacob Blake
Among the initial responses after the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by a local police officer in Kenosha Wisconsin earlier this week was to wait. Not to rush to judgement. Let all the facts emerge. Reserve our comments until the investigation is complete.
Graphic, real time video of the shooting and more than 400 years of brutal oppression weren’t enough. We were told to wait.
Have we waited long enough?
- Has Jacob fought for his life long enough for us to march as he is unlikely to ever walk again?
- Have Jacob’s young kids suffered enough for us to act?
- Have enough 17-year-old white supremacists gunned down enough people for us to rise up?
Waiting to act is unacceptable. We must strongly speak the truth, demand change and act. Now.
We strongly speak the truth:
Racism kills people. It kills people with violence and brutality. Racism kills people through poor health, education and economic policies. Racism kills people through the overt acts of some and the inaction of many others. Racism also uses AIDS to kill people. The equation is brutal and tragic: Racism = Death.
We demand change:
Police leadership needs to change policy, educate officers and demand behaviors become more humane and anti-racist. Quit shooting black people!
Political leaders need to set aside partisanship and get to work passing laws protecting African Americans from police brutality. More so, they must pass laws giving African Americans the health, education and economic opportunities that have been actively denied for centuries.
CEOs need to dismantle systemic racism in their companies and our society – if they are not doing this, they are not doing their jobs.
We immediately provided financial support for Jacob and his family.
We expanded our lifesaving work with our hundreds of patients in Kenosha. We reached out to provide one-on-one support to overcome isolation and fear related to the shooting. We increased and extended home delivery of food, medicine and other support for patients and clients during these trying times.
We supported our African American Champions, because at Vivent Health we do not have employees we have Champions. We have created forums to have the complex, difficult and uncomfortable discussions about systemic racism. We have provided more than 1,000 hours of anti-racism training. We will next month announce a major, year-long anti-racism initiative throughout our national footprint.
There is no waiting to dismantle systemic racism. There is no waiting to provide respect, dignity and opportunity to African Americans. There is simply no more waiting. Speak the truth. Demand change. Act. Now.