Age-Friendly Communities of Northern New Jersey
Statement on Racial Justice and Equity
The right to age in dignity, safety and comfort. This is the mantra of the age-friendly community movement. The community leaders in our alliance believe that all older adults are entitled to spend their later years in supportive, safe communities where
their health, housing, mobility and social needs are met.
It would be imprudent for us to embark on such a goal without recognizing the many divides in our diverse state, and without acknowledging the ways in which racism has denied many African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities dignity, safety and comfort throughout their entire lives.
The demonstrations happening across the country are opening eyes to the ways in which racism has warped the physical and social infrastructures of communities of all sizes, in all regions. New Jersey's decades-long battles over affordable housing have trapped many older adults of color in places with unsafe homes, inferior health care, inadequate transportation, and fewer chances to improve their lives and their livelihoods. Our state's long-term-care system affords fewer opportunities for people with low- and moderate-incomes to be cared for in their homes and communities, while at the same time relying largely on women of color to take on the crucial and difficult work of direct-care, jobs that pay little and often come without the benefits those workers need to properly care for themselves and their families.
The protest signs we've seen in the past week are filled with the names of recent victims of racism. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. But racism also kills in ways that go unchallenged, with many of its victims unacknowledged. The state's daily release of COVID-19 statistics show African-Americans dying at higher rates from the disease. Sadly, this disparity doesn't surprise. African Americans in New Jersey and across the country have consistently higher mortality rates across all age groups. In January,
Auburn University-led study
found evidence that the stress of racial discrimination was linked to premature biological aging in a group of African-Americans studied over a 10-year period.
Our alliance strives to both hear and amplify the voices of those we fear might become invisible in their communities as they age.
The events of the last week have served to remind us that we must work harder to identify and raise up all who are disenfranchised in their communities and to make sure we are building coalitions that include all perspectives and reflect all experiences.
We stand in solidarity with the African-American community in the goal of elevating the cause of racial justice, with the hope that we can foster communities that both value and actively work to ensure respect and inclusion for all.
Age-Friendly Englewood Generations For Garfield
Age-Friendly Ridgewood Westwood For All Ages