As people across the country rally to fight institutional racism, we have the opportunity to further equality within our own community. Racism is not only an issue of justice, but it’s also an issue of health. Discrimination and violence towards people of color, whether by law enforcement or individuals within the community, creates an environment of trauma. This everyday trauma in a person's life accumulates in chronic stress, higher rates of lifelong health conditions, and lower life expectancy. In turn, a greater burden is placed on our healthcare system, and all of our families and communities suffer.
This Thursday, June 25th at 12:30pm the Spokane Regional Board of Health is meeting and will vote on a resolution on address health equity within the Regional Health District. Send an email today urging the Board to vote "yes" on the resolution. There is an email template below.
This Resolution calls on the Spokane Regional Health District to create concrete changes to their internal structure and how they relate to the community to better address health equity. Full text of the resolution here.
You can tune in to view the meeting here and show your support for the resolution via YouTube Live here: https://youtu.be/t0ma8mAlroA at 12:30 on Thursday, June 25th.
Comments for the Board of Health should be sent to Ann Pitsnogle, Executive Secretary of the Board, and will be received by all members.
TITLE: Vote Yes on Resolution 20-07- Health Equity Response
Dear Members of the Spokane Regional Board of Health:
My name is _________ and I am a resident of __________.
As you are aware, the last three weeks has seen an overwhelming response to the most recent murders of Black Americans by police officers. As these acts of violence continue to be witnessed across America, we must reckon with the fact that experiences by Black and Indigenous Americans, among other people of color, have been previously dismissed on both a personal and institutional level. We are writing with urgency for the Spokane Regional Board of Health to publicly recognize that racism is a public health issue.
The issue of law enforcement violence and racial disparity in policing is not new. It is deeply ingrained in our social structures. Discrimination and violence towards people of color creates an environment of trauma. This everyday trauma in a person's life accumulates in chronic stress, higher rates of lifelong health conditions, and lower life expectancy. In turn, a greater burden is placed on our healthcare system, and all of our families and communities suffer.
The American Public Health Association released a statement in 2018 calling for widespread policy changes and research into systems perpetuating racism including “interventions that decrease reliance on law enforcement, including decriminalization, increased investment in social determinants of health, and community-based alternatives that promote public safety, such as violence intervention and restorative justice.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has likewise exposed extreme disparities in how our nation’s healthcare system and social structures are systemically failing people of color. The CDC has found that racial and ethnic minority groups have shouldered a disproportionate burden of illness and death to COVID-19 during the pandemic. Disparities in rates of poverty, lack of access to healthcare, lack of racial diversity of healthcare providers and languages spoken and reliance on lower paying ‘essential’ jobs that do not allow for appropriate social distancing are all aspects of a discriminatory society that causes direct harm to people of color.
This is a national crisis, but it must be addressed on a local level. Meaningful progress towards reform and oversight of the Spokane Police Department only began after the death of Otto Zehm, and that progress has been partial at best, and continues to be threatened. As the most recent statistics show: stops, arrests, and uses of force disproportionately target Black and other minority citizens of Spokane. Likewise, throughout Eastern Washington, Latinx and Marshallese communities are experiencing disproportionate illness and death due to COVID-19.
We urge you to stand with our community members that have been brutalized, harmed, suppressed and overlooked. Silence is irresponsible and action is necessary.
I urge you to vote yes on Resolution #20-07 Re: Adopting a Spokane Regional Health District Health Equity Response.