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Minister Verdell Wright on Black History Month

As we interact with diverse communities, we have to be aware of the realities that these communities face.

Every year, Black people across the country celebrate Black History Month. Even though African Americans recall and commemorate cultural history all throughout the year, the month of February is when a particular focus is made on the realities of the Black experience in America. Churches, mosques, and community centers are abuzz with programming to entertain and inform others about the struggles that many Black people endured and the progress that has been made. Black History Month is particularly intense this year, given the realities of racial issues in our country. Black Lives Matter is a phrase that has lodged itself into the public discourse. A new wave of nation-wide activism has been ignited, and it is sweeping across the country.

This is important for an organization such as Compassion & Choices to notice the trends and understand why Black History Month is so vital to so many. As we interact with diverse communities, we have to be aware of the realities that these communities face. Many Black people feel that there are not treated fairly in our country, particularly by law enforcement, in hiring practices, financial systems, and healthcare. This last point is important, because the viewpoint is that hospitals and government policies about healthcare often go against African Americans’ best interests. This view often causes resistance when the idea of death with dignity arises.

In order to successfully communicate Compassion and Choices’ aims, we must embrace the idea that Black lives matter, and then express how that sentiment also extends to end-of-life choices. How can death with dignity help the community? How can it help families to heal, and how does it make sure that our loved ones are not taken advantage of? Discussing the other services that are provided, such as advanced directives, will help to connect to the vitals that the African American community cherishes.

So as Black History Month draws to a close, consider we can do to affirm that Black Lives Matter, and how death with dignity can help Black lives end in a way that they see fit.