Really? Is Racism A Public Health “Crisis” In Washington State?
" With all due respect..."
What goes through your mind when somebody starts a comment with that phrase"
Is Racism A Public Health Crisis
To me, it means "I recognize what I'm about to say can be taken a couple of ways and I want you to take it in the best way possible with the parameters of the message."
So, with all due respect ...why is racism a public health crisis in Washington State?
I guess It officially is. The Washington State Public Health Association’s (WSPHA) Board of Directors and Membership recently ratified the Resolution, “That Racism is a Public Health Crisis in Washington State.”
Crisis? Is racism really a crisis in Washington? Here is the Washington State Census breakdown to establish our racial makeup, the landscape on which our alleged crisis level racism plays out.
Washington Racial Makeup
|White alone 67.5%|
|Black or African American alone|
|American Indian and Alaska Native alone|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders alone|
|Two or More Races|
|Hispanic or Latino|
Gotta Be Racism?
Different organizations have been pushing the idea of racism as a public health crisis for a while now. About a year ago some state leaders sent a letter to the governor that included the following request for an executive order declaring racism a public health crisis in Washington state....the leaders said:
This declaration is necessary to uproot anti-Black racism within the Evergreen state, including its government and agencies.
Black, Indigenous, Latinx, immigrants, and communities of color have faced deeply rooted racism in every system we interact with as human beings on a day-to-day basis, a reality shamefully illuminated as our communities suffer disproportionately under COVID-19….
This truth has resulted in poorer health, less economic mobility, higher rates of incarceration, and higher mortality rates. This is a public health crisis….
Is there no other reason for any of this.... except racism...obviously. Their demands included that Washington state divest and redirect its budgetary, legislative, and administrative power and resources to anti-racist-centered laws, policy changes, practices, and principles.
The Washington State Public Health Association's position is that the role of public health is to prevent illness, injury, and premature death.
Not Enough Progress Made
JanMarie Ward Olmstead, WSPHA Board President-Elect, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee Chair says
While progress has occurred in the last fifty years towards a more equitable society, the historic and institutional structures of racism remain. They have caused generational trauma and continue to impact Indigenous people and communities of color.
Nobody wants that. Steps should be taken to address that. Cannot that be done without the accusation of racism? Is it really "prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group" that results in illness? Injury? Premature death?
Serious Science Or Woke Redirect
I'm no scientist and I'm no doctor but this feels like something of significance that is somewhat trivialized or undercut when wrapped up and served to the public in the trappings of wokeness.
It is 2022, good people will gladly work together to solve health challenges facing all Washingtonians, but playing the race card as part of it, is for many, more insult than an invite.