Santa Clara County supes declare racism a public health crisis

On Monday, two Santa Clara County supervisors declared racism a public health crisis. They are proposing measurable steps be taken to eradicate the effects.
Researchers first proposed the concept of racism as a public health crisis several years ago, due to its impact on communities of color. In the wake of the George Floyd killing, it’s gaining new momentum.
“Racism is at our foundation, and will continue to be a public crisis until we think, act, and live revolutionary,” said Jamal Williams of the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet of Silicon Valley.
Outside the Santa Clara County office building, a coalition of community groups stood in solidarity with supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese. The pair announced their proposal to declare racism a public health crisis.
“A hardstand to fight the elimination of systemic racism, institutional racial inequality. And making the changes that will have meaning for the children who come long after us,” Chavez said. Added Alma Burrell of the Roots Community Health Center, “This declaration today speaks to what we have known since our ancestors were brought to the Jamestown colony as slaves in 1619.”
Experts say the current racial divide is traced to the American slave trade. Although that institution ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, the effects have rippled down through the decades.
“Despite the progress of Black Americans and other minorities, a ghostly aberration of racial bigotry is hanging over this nation and this country,” said Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP. Added social scientist Dr. V. Nenaji Jackson, “Post-traumatic slave syndrome. It’s similar to PTSD that soldiers suffer from.”
She said the result of this syndrome is higher incidents of disease, illness, stress, and economic impoverishment.
“This illness could be treated using government resources,” said Jackson.
Chavez and Cortese have several recommendations to the county to accomplish the objective. Some of which include, using education as the weapon to dismantle systemic racism, promoting community engagement, and a racially equitable workforce. Chavez and Cortese want to see funding passed by the board to accomplish the goals.
“Local governments like Santa Clara County have led the nation in terms of bringing justice to this country. So we’re trying to do that once again,” said Cortese.
Many community leaders say they’ll hold politicians accountable for acting on the recommendations, adding this is the first step in a long process to finally heal a long-festering national wound.
“This isn’t just about symbolic gestures. It’s about actual policy changes that could lead to the freedom and survival of Black people and the survival of Brown people and poor people here in Santa Clara County,” said Raj Jayadev of DeBug.
Late Monday, the Santa Clara County Health Department issued a statement to KTVU that read in part, "We will not continue to see substantial improvements in the health of our entire population without changing the systemic conditions that affect health. The root causes of health inequities are linked to social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that can be prevented.”
Supervisors Chavez and Cortese present the proclamation to the full board Tuesday morning.