The literal “knee on the neck” murder of George Floyd is a metaphor for the socio-economic determinants that are a “knee on the neck” for a community that has long known socio-economic discrimination. Our knee on the neck results in chronic health disparities, an overrepresentation of Black people experiencing homelessness and an overrepresentation of Black people in the specialized foster care system.
As a mental health and homeless service provider, we are driven by outcomes. Outcomes that are complicated by systematic and structural hurdles that drive socio-economic factors. These factors frequently overwhelm our interventions. On every level, we join those who work to dissolve those barriers.
Social economic determinants that Black people endure have been dangerously woven into the DNA of the American experience. It gets reproduced and expressed for generations until there is a severe disruption. SCHARP thanks Black Lives Matter for catalyzing a movement to make some structural differences.
The question becomes where do we go from here? With Black people experiencing 40% of Los Angeles County homelessness, we can create and focus on pathways and roadmaps. Roadmaps like the racial equity tool that is a recommendation of the Committee on Black People Experiencing Homeless. This Committee made recommendations to make structural inroads. https://www.lahsa.org/news?article=514-groundbreaking-report-on-black-people-and-homelessness-released
Health disparities, social determinants of health and police violence are inextricably linked. Overrepresentation of Black people in the COVID-19 pandemic takes us back to the fundamental problem of a system that fails our community. We want to make policy decisions and changes on the front end. Only then, can our trauma based mental health interventions truly flourish.
I remind my clients each day that
“Mental illness is not a personal failure,
but a journey we overcome together.”
Tiffany Nielsen, LCSW
FSP Program Director
careers updated weekly