Reflections on the Riot at the Capitol

Strong democracy means equity

ChangeLab Solutions strongly condemns the violent actions perpetrated at our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021. As an organization whose work focuses on the critical role of law, policy, and good governance in advancing health, equity, and justice, we stand in community with those who are taking action to address this nation’s legacies of slavery, racism, and discrimination. We will not be deterred from our goals of strengthening our democracy and fighting for equity.

We are outraged by the president’s — and other lawmakers’ — attempts to delegitimize a national election and bypass the will of the people. This subversion has destabilized our democracy and enabled violence at the Capitol by right-wing extremists and white supremacists. White privilege was on full display, given that the security response to the violent mob was largely nonexistent, with security personnel who were possibly even complicit in the attack — a stark contrast to the forceful way that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the nation have been treated during peaceful protests against racism. This racist double standard in enforcement is inexcusable.

A similar double standard undergirds the devastating inequities in COVID-19 deaths in our country. On the day when lawmakers voted to certify the national election despite the threat to their lives and our democracy, 4,000 individuals across the nation died from COVID-19 due to the lack of a coordinated and equitable national response. Effective leadership is crucial; indeed, we are seeing that it is a matter of life or death.

Our democracy isn’t perfect, but it holds great promise. At ChangeLab Solutions, we will continue our work to help fulfill the promise of democracy by providing leaders with the tools to break down inequitable barriers to health and prosperity in our communities, our institutions, and at all levels of government. All of us who work toward public health must join forces to dismantle structural racism and create new laws and policies that will ensure equitable opportunities for all.

In solidarity,

Sarah de Guia and the staff of ChangeLab Solutions