VIAPA Stands in Solidarity Against Racism
On June 9, 2020 all flags in the U.S. Virgin Islands flew at half-staff in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in honor of George Floyd. The U.S. Virgin Islands Academy of Physician Assistants (VIAPA) stands in solidarity with all those who fight against racism. Although racism is often exposed through economic, education, and housing disparities, it is a public health emergency. Virgin Islanders have a strong history of activism against injustice and unequal treatment, organizing our efforts to take action when our health and welfare is threatened by racism. Today, our call to action is no different than it was in 1848 when we won emancipation, and in 1878 when we revolted against unfair labor practices.
The impacts of racism extend beyond social disparities, affecting individuals’ and communities’ ability to achieve positive health outcomes, preventing some individuals from achieving their highest level of health, and compounding existing health inequities. Access to good medical care is one of the strongest indicators of a community’s well being. The quality of our lives depend on the quality of our health. Black health matters.
The National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and African Heritage PA Caucus have all taken the initiative to facilitate discussion among PAs and PA students, brainstorming strategic action towards battling this public health crisis. As healthcare professionals in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Physician Assistants (PAs) are dedicated to providing health care to all Virgin Islanders without discrimination. VIAPA and all PAs individually are working tirelessly to remove systemic barriers to affordable, accessible, high quality health care.
We must condemn racism, in all its forms, by demanding that black lives are treated equally with dignity and respect. Our health, safety, and welfare depend on it.
About the U.S. Virgin Islands
There are 3 US Virgin Islands, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. St. Croix is the largest of the 3 islands and is located 45 miles south of the other two islands. The busy St. Thomas is a frequent destination for cruise ships each year. Charlotte Amalie, the capitol of the US Virgin Islands, is located on the busy island of St. Thomas. Approximately 60% of St. John, the smallest of the US Virgin Islands, is protected as the Virgin Islands National Park.