Reflections on Inauguration Day
The Health Equity Alliance strives empower marginalized communities to combat stigma and realize health justice. We work closely with people living with HIV, LGBTQ+ people, people who use drugs and other marginalized communities throughout Maine to improve their health and wellbeing and affect social and cultural change - to cultivate a more democratic, egalitarian society.Throughout we work diligently to uplift the voices of those communities marginalized by stigma, intolerance and fear.
Over the last 8 years, we have had the opportunity to celebrate significant federal progress on many of the fronts along which we work. We have enjoyed 8 years of more progressive drug policy. Eight years of progress on LGBTQ+ rights and an affirming white house. And increased public attention and civil discourse around racial justice issues.
Today, many of the people that we work closely with and among are holding their breath… The vitriol of the presidential campaign, the coded and not so coded verbal violence that saturated it, the actual physical violence that surrounded it, and the parade of presidential appointees with dismal records on LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, progressive drug policy… These things have put our constituents on high alert. They’re holding their breath because they don’t know what will happen next – uncertainty breeds fear and anxiety.
Here in Maine, we have had the ill fortune to endure 6 years of an administration founded on similar principles. But during this time, while our communities have experienced great pain and adversity - from adversity is born strength – is born power – not power over, but power with… The last 6 years have encouraged and spurred us to work in coalition against the forces of intolerance and oppression – and through ‘power with’ we have seen some amazing victories.
While the movements that arise out of these moments are imperfect we see how adversity breeds strength throughout Maine and the Nation, in the mobilization of people from the Women’s march on Washington, the outpouring of support for New Mainer communities, a reinvigorated racial justice movement and strong civic discourse around racial justice issues and demonstrations across the country under myriad banners.
At HEAL, we too are afraid, but we are also committed. Over the next four years we commit ourselves to continuing to build vibrant networks of relational power. To deconstructing the systems of oppression that perpetuate marginalization. To advancing health justice… the equal distribution of health and well being… the elimination of health disparities – through combating stigma, promoting health and well being, and interrupting oppression and deconstructing the structures of marginalization that perpetuate health disparities.