When the Covid-19 pandemic laid bare racial, medical, and economic differences across cities across the United States, city officials in Oakland, California knew they needed to do something.
More than two years into the pandemic, they passed a resolution that racism is a public health crisis.
“It reminds us that centuries of systemic racism have taken a toll on communities of color and led to alarming health disparities that are exacerbated by the pandemic. According to Seema Rupani, an attorney for the Oakland City Attorney’s office, Barbara Parker, it took time to put it together thoughtfully.
“It took time to talk to various city departments, do research on the social determinants of health and see what is happening in Oakland and what needs to be done to reduce inequality,” continued Rupani.
The city declared racism a public health crisis following a unanimous city council vote last week. The resolution states that the city will consider how the city can achieve equity in all aspects of city planning, policy making, laws, contracting, and hiring.
The resolution says the city will take several steps, including providing $350,000 to the Department of Race and Justice to support its efforts to advance racial justice. The funding will be spent on race and fairness data analytics and advisory services for the “ongoing, citywide collection of data needed to deliver a fairer outcome for Oaklanders.”
Residents of historic white neighborhoods in the hills of North Oakland live an average of 14 to 15 years longer than residents of historic black and Hispanic neighborhoods, according to a city report.
Darlene Flynn, the city’s director of race and justice, told CNN that her office was established in 2016 and deals with systemic racism.
“This is a data-driven focus on addressing racial disparities in all key areas of life, including the health disparities that exist in urban settings,” she said.
The new funds generated by the resolution will give a significant boost to the department’s efforts to collect and analyze community data to address equity issues, Flynn said, adding that she hopes the resolution is just the beginning of a call to action to combat racism in Oakland. . and cities across the country.
Last year, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky declared racism “a serious threat to public health”.highlighting the CDC’s new efforts “to accelerate its work to combat racism as a major cause of racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States.”
Organizations such as the Black Coalition Against Covid have been formed to deal with the challenges that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the center released a biennial report highlighting “the need for vigilance to ensure fairness for black Americans.” In conclusion, “the work ahead will be challenging and will require well thought out, adequately funded and strategically coordinated efforts at the national and regional, state and local levels.”
Dr. Reed Tucson, co-founder of the Black Coalition Against Covid-19, told CNN that Walensky’s statement gave legitimacy to “a conversation that has been going on in all health sectors for some time.”
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