Governor Pete Ricketts, Directors Smith, Goins and Frakes: Formally working with African-American & North Omaha communities
Published: June 15, 2020
10 Point Plan officially approved and released on May 22, 2020
Governor Pete Ricketts agrees to partner with African-American and North Omaha communities to prevent the spread of COVID 19 and address economic gaps.
A group of leaders representing hundreds of African-American led and North Omaha organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, churches, faith communities and thousands of residents have met with Governor Pete Ricketts and key department leaders over the past two months to identify ways to work together to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 Coronavirus and address long-term economic issues.
Governor Ricketts recognizes that in Douglas County a disproportionate number African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Asians and other people of color have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus.
The North Omaha and South Omaha communities have the highest number of documented cases in Douglas County.
The leadership groups and Governor Ricketts have also discussed the economic gaps, health disparities and underlying conditions that existed well before the virus and in some cases have been in place for decades.
Both groups acknowledge some important progress has been made during the previous 10 years, but much work lies ahead to fully close economic and health gaps.
Building on successful gains made in Omaha through collective work and the historic collaboration now occurring in North Omaha, Governor Ricketts and his team have agreed to work with the community in the following specific areas including, but not limited to:
Tracking of data by race, ethnicity and geography; assuring residents with COVID related illness have access to health care; expanding testing efforts; increasing access to masks; partnering with community-based health organizations and entities; engaging with North Omaha media; sharing plans designed to prevent the spread of the virus in prisons and jails; and assuring organizations and businesses in areas hit hardest by the virus receive equitable funding from federal, state and county allocations and investments.
Governor Ricketts has assigned Directors Dannette Smith – Health and Human Services, Anthony Goins – Economic Development and Scott Frakes – Corrections, to work with the African-American and North Omaha communities.
For more details, please review the 10 Point Action Plan, Commitments and Initial Actions. (Below)
Official Press Release (May 22, 2020)
Gov. Ricketts Highlights Progress on Partnership with Omaha Communities on Coronavirus Response
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Ricketts provided an update on the State of Nebraska’s efforts to help communities in Omaha combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Since early May, Governor Ricketts has been engaging leaders in North and South Omaha during the current public health emergency to help slow the spread of the virus.
“Throughout the country, our minority populations have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus ,” said Governor Ricketts. “We are working with leaders in communities of color throughout the state to ensure all Nebraskans have access the health care, education, and resources for this public health emergency. Thank you to the leaders in North and South Omaha for working with the State to help address the issues that are most prevalent in their communities.”
The ten-point plan includes the following initiatives:
· Data Reporting: Tracking health data related to coronavirus based on race, ethnicity, and geography across the State.
o The State is working with local public health departments to track cases by race and ethnicity in statewide data reporting.
· Access to Care: Working with health care leaders in the community and with the State of Nebraska to ensure that no one is denied coronavirus related health services.
o Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been working with healthcare providers in the community to assure them that they will be reimbursed for coronavirus related expenses. The Governor’s Office is working with community leaders to inform the public that testing is free even if an individual does not have health insurance and that no one will be denied treatment for coronavirus because of an inability to pay.
· Supporting Community Providers: Providing resources through healthcare facilities in North and South Omaha.
o The State is engaging directly with Charles Drew and One World Health to ensure testing and other resources are being provided to the community.
· Testing: Expanding testing in Omaha.
o In addition to working with community federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), the State is deploying Test Nebraska testing sites in Omaha to increase testing capacity and assist in alleviating the burden on local healthcare providers in the community.
· Masks: Increasing availability of masks for the community.
o DHHS and Governor’s Office are partnering with community leaders to increase messaging regarding the importance of wearing masks when out in public.
· Tracking Funding: Providing and tracking State and Federal coronavirus related funding for North and South Omaha.
o The State is working with Omaha leaders to establish a guideline for tracking coronavirus related funding as it relates to the communities of North and South Omaha.
· Corrections: Updating the community on the State’s plan to prevent spread of coronavirus in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS).
o NDCS Director Scott Frakes participated in a call with Omaha leaders to address their concerns regarding the virus’ impact on the State’s correctional system.
· Unemployment: Assuring timely response regarding unemployment applications.
o Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) Commissioner John Albin and NDOL have improved access to unemployment benefits by contracting with North End Teleservices to create a new call center for unemployment benefit claimants, with multiple bilingual customer service representatives available. NDOL has provided additional access to the unemployment program by teaming with Metro Community College (MCC) to create an access point at the Fort Dodge campus of MCC.
· Public Awareness: Collaborating with the Omaha community to expand messaging and education regarding coronavirus.
o The Governor’s Office has been working directly with the Black Media Collaborative/North Omaha Media Collaborative to deploy coronavirus messaging as part of a month-long communications campaign. The Governor’s Office is also working with Spanish media outlets to get messaging to those in which English is not their primary language.
· Future Growth: Partnering with leaders to address long-standing economic and health issues in North and South Omaha.
o Governor Ricketts has directed Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Tony Goins and DHHS CEO Dannette Smith to work closely with the communities of North and South Omaha to address these issues. To date, task forces have been established that involve state, local, and industry leaders to focus on both of these areas.
The North Omaha groups consist of hundreds of organizations, businesses, churches, neighborhood associations, media outlets and others representing and serving thousands of residents.
10 Point Action Plan to Prevent the Spread of COVID 19 and Work to Begin Addressing Short-term and Long-term Economic and Health Issues in North Omaha.
Developed with North Omaha Leaders/COVID Task Forces in partnership with Governor Ricketts and leaders from State Departments (April – May 2020; approved May 15, 2020)
1. Tracking data by race, ethnicity and geography across the state in a similar format to what Douglas County is currently implementing.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to have the Department of Health and Human Services to work with county officials to collect this important data.
Initial Action: The first report was released on May 30, 2020. Douglas County has gathered and reported data by race, ethnicity and geography from the beginning.
2. Working with Health systems CEO’s, DHHS and others to assure that no one facing Coronavirus issues is denied health services during this time.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to have his team work with CEO’s and other health organizations to assure that no Nebraskan will be turned away from health services related to COVID. And, Governor Ricketts made the commitment that health organization would be reimbursed for services provided to those with COVID related sickness.
Initial Actions: Meetings have been held with health organizations and this message has been communicated. No Nebraskan will be refused access to healthcare related to COVID 19. Cares funding also assures no one will be turned away because of COVID 19.
3. Provide funding to support Charles Drew Health Center, One World Health Center, Center for Holistic Development and North Omaha Area Health clinic who all provide culturally specific and valuable leadership and health services in North and South Omaha. The funding opportunities will address physical and mental health.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to identify funding opportunities for communities most impacted by COVID 19 including North and South Omaha.
Initial Actions: Governor Ricketts and his team are identifying opportunities that can be connected to North and South Omaha and other areas severely impacted by COVID 19. Follow up meetings are scheduled to identify and secure specific funding through grant application processes and direct allocation to communities most impacted. Several meetings have been held with HHS Mental Health team. A proposal is under consideration by DHHS.
4. Increase the access to testing. Reinforce the need for testing.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to the importance of expanded testing.
Initial Actions: Governor Ricketts launched TestNebraska, a major statewide initiative which will help identify geographic areas to focus on and lead to contact tracing to prevent further spread. The state of Nebraska will partner with Charles Drew and One World in the local community. The One World implementation started on Thursday, May 14th. Charles Drew implementation has also started.
5. Push for more masks and face coverings to be made available in North and South Omaha.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to support efforts in Douglas County to make more masks available.
Initial Actions: Douglas County and others have made over 26,000 masks available within the past two weeks for North and South Omaha. African-American and North Omaha leaders will be working with Douglas County and other to make more masks available.
6. Identify the funding allocated for Nebraska through the Federal Cares program which has made $1.099 billion available to the State and $160 million to Douglas County to address COVID 19 issues. Assure that North and South Omaha receive equitable funding from Federal and State sources. And, use scorecards for tracking and reporting purposes.
Commitment: The State has agreed to track by category and department the amount allocated and invested/spent with North and South Omaha organizations.
Initial Actions: A draft tracking report has been created and a diversity and inclusion scorecard. The State of Nebraska has identified plans to allocate the funds by category.
7. Formally address the plan to prevent spread of COVID in State Corrections without sharing sensitive safety procedures.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to have Director Scott Frakes share plans without sensitive safety procedures. Governor Ricketts also committed to testing incarcerated individuals if an incident occurs.
Initial Actions: A follow-up conference call with State Corrections Director Scott Frakes and DC Jail Director Michael Myers was very productive. As of June 13, 2020, nine state employees have been diagnosed with COVID and have been quarantined. One incarcerated individuals has tested positive in State Corrections. All institutions have comprehensive plans in place. As of June 11th, all incarcerated individuals can be tested within the state corrections system.
8. Assure that unemployment claims are met on a timely basis.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts and his team were already working to increase staffing to support faster service. Staff has increased from 35 to over 160. Governor Ricketts was open to a proposal to help increase capacity in Douglas County with emphasis on Heartland Workforce Solutions.
Initial Actions: Staff has been increased from 35 to over 160. Barriers are being reduced. Governor Ricketts is considering additional funding to support Heartland Workforce Solutions to assist with unemployment work in North and South Omaha.
9. Working with North and South Omaha media to spread the Stay Home, Stay Safe and Support the Village campaign which also incorporates the Governor’s six point plan to Stay Healthy. (campaign should include physical and mental health)
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to support PSA’s and personal participation with radio interviews. The communications team is reviewing COVID 19 funding to assess the ability to invest in education campaigns. Governor Ricketts also committed to assuring communications materials for education, resources and promotional materials will be culturally specific.
Initial Actions: Governor Ricketts has been a special guest on three African-American radio stations in North Omaha. In addition, the State of Nebraska has actively participated with the communications strategy in North Omaha and South Omaha. The leadership group working with Black/North Omaha media and Hispanic/South Omaha media are presenting a long-term communications and outreach plan. The State of Nebraska has started advertising campaigns on the three radio stations.
10. In addition to the 10 Point Plan, Governor Ricketts and his team will work with North and South Omaha on an expanded short-term and long-term economic and health transformation strategy to address long-standing issues and gaps. Make the state of Nebraska a thriving and prosperous state in every county for all people including all races, ethnicities and zip codes in rural and urban communities with a special and intense focus on North and South Omaha which have suffered decades of health disparities driven by socio-economic issues.
Commitment: Governor Ricketts agreed to partner with the North and South Omaha leadership groups to develop and implement strategies to address short-term and long-term economic and health issues that addressed before COVID 19. Some of the immediate needs are directly related to the success of small businesses.
Initial Actions: Governor Ricketts and Tony Goins, Director of Economic Development for the State of Nebraska have created task forces to specifically address COVID related business issues.
Governor Ricketts has agreed to on-going planning and strategy sessions to work with the North Omaha and South Omaha leadership groups to implement targeted strategies.
Governor Ricketts is working with African-American leaders to implement the programs and Anthony Goins, Director of Economic Development, Dannette Smith, Director of Health and Human Services and Scott Frakes, Director of Corrections are working directly with leaders to move things forward.
Over 300 leaders gathered virtually for 9th Annual AALC
Published: September 27, 2020
The Empowerment Network’s 9th Annual African-American Leadership Conference was held virtually on Thursday and Friday, Sept 24th and 25th.
Hundreds of leaders and influencers convened with the understanding that the economic progress of African-Americans has a direct and positive impact on people of all races and ethnicities.
Research conducted by MAPA shows that in the Omaha/Council Bluffs region, the area would experience an increase of $4 billion in economic activity by addressing racial inequities and maximizing its diversity.
The AALC event has grown into one of the largest gatherings of African-American leaders in the nation focused on economic progress and closing wealth, health and educational gaps.
The theme this year was “The Turning Point and a New Path Forward.”
“After an unprecedented year of addressing what can be considered as four pandemics, including health, economics, police/community tensions and racial justice, African-American leaders and allies from across the country gathered virtually for two days of inspiring and results-oriented discussion, strategy and action,” said Willie Barney, President of the Empowerment Network.
“We believe this year, even with all of its challenges, can be a year of transformation for African-Americans and others.”
“We really focused attention on ownership, wealth and career advancement,” said Vicki Quaites-Ferris, Director of Operations for the Empowerment Network. “This was one of the best groups of national, regional and local speakers we’ve ever had for the conference.”
National strategist and thought leaders joined local and regional experts to focus on solutions including career advancement, entrepreneurship, home ownership, revitalization, reducing violence, educating and preparing our youth, improving access to health and healthy foods and building stronger communities.
Thursday night kicked off with a powerful presentation by Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO of BCT Partners, on the benefits of racial equity and diversity. And, for the first time, the conference featured a special regional panel.
Leaders from Minneapolis, Ferguson/St. Louis, Kansas City, Madison, Quad-Cities and Cleveland discussed the racial disparities faced by African-Americans in the Midwest and the innovative solutions being implemented on the ground in those cities to address the gaps.
Mayor Melvin Carter, the first African-American mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota participated in a lively and informative session focused on public policy to directly address poverty and building wealth.
Teresa Hunter, CEO of Family Housing Advisory Services and John Ewing, Douglas County Treasurer, shared briefly about the collective and collaborative strategies that resulted in measurable outcomes for African-Americans in Omaha, pre-Covid, and new recommendations to maintain and accelerate progress during and beyond the crisis. Cities from across the nation have expressed an interest in replicating models developed and implemented in Omaha to reduce unemployment, decrease gun violence, improve educational outcomes and catalyze large scale revitalization.
Hall of Fame business leader, George Fraser, CEO of FraserNet along with Dr. Pamela Jolly, CEO of Torch Enterprises and Jaylen Bledsoe, 22 year old CEO of Bledsoe Collective, closed out the evening with a national panel examining how the simultaneous pandemics are impacting African-Americans across the country and outlining strategies to transform this moment into a turning point.
Friday was a full day of large group keynote presentations from the main auditorium and interactive breakout sessions featuring national and local speakers focused on addressing poverty and closing gaps by building wealth. The virtual conference web-site was designed by Michael Young of Technology Consulting Solutions and Jonathan Chapman of the Empowerment Network and Church on Purpose. Chapman also managed the production of the two days of interactive media and speakers.
The day started with a historical look at how policies and systems have impacted African-Americans and created some of the issues faced today including tension between police and black communities and the large and growing wealth gap.
Barry Thomas, Director of Equity and Inclusion at Omaha Public Schools and former Director of Social Studies, gave a compelling presentation on the history of African-Americans in the state including the parents of Malcolm X. Thomas pointed out that the state of Nebraska came in to existence partly because of the Haitian revolution which caused France to sell land to the United States known as the Louisiana Purchase.
Morning presentations and panels followed focused on building wealth, scaling black-owned businesses, advancing careers, and implementing effective equity and diversity plans.
Dr. Pamela Jolly delivered an insightful piece on key aspects for building wealth and announced the launch of 2nd cohort of the Omaha Legacy Wealth Initiative. David Stevens, Senior Financial Consultant and Certified Financial Planner at TD Ameritrade provided an insightful overview of key considerations for making strategic investments.
Pastor Martin Williams, pastor of Ambassador Worship Center and CEO of Barak II, LLC, a real estate development and investment company, provided attendees with the ACCESS code for scaling black businesses. BC Clark, manager at Nebraska Enterprise Fund, gave 12 key elements and secrets to help black businesses create jobs. Candice Price, owner of two businesses including HomeTeam Auto, highlighted important solutions to help black business with growth.
Dr. Randal Pinkett and three members of the Redefine the Game cohort gave a stirring, challenging and empowering presentation on the topic bringing our authentic selves into the work environment. Pinkett played a video clip featuring the late Chadwick Boseman as he played one of his most memorable roles, Jackie Robinson in 42. “God made me to last,” Robinson replied after being challenged by racists as he broke the color barrier in the major leagues.
Dr. Strong, Director of Inclusion at UNMC, sent a special message for women in the audience in recognition of the decision regarding Breonna Taylor. Dr. Chris Whitt, Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Creighton University, reminded attendees that they cannot leave their identity and who they are at home. And, LaKeisha Gatson-Dunham shared wisdom about advancing in the corporate Omaha while still being authentic. All said the Redefine the Game Institute was a great place to network, build a cohort of strength and helped them to confirm their purpose.
For the fourth year in a row, a panel of local CEOs highlighted their personal and professional commitments to support African-American led initiatives and strategies.
The conference included announcements of Big and Bold Commitments and Actions from CEO’s and other leaders as part of the next phase of the Transformation 2025 plan.
One CEO gave a preliminary report of partnering with the Network and others to bring as many as 200 jobs to North Omaha. A formal announcement is coming soon.
Another CEO provided an updated on the innovative partnership with the Carver Legacy Center and a commitment to assist with community revitalization efforts.
The final CEO on the panel gave an overview of his companies commitment to do more business with black-owned and minority-owned businesses.
These are just a few examples from three of 15 CEO’s that have made Big & Bold Commitments. More announcements are coming in the next few months.
Participants were encouraged to purchase lunch from black owned restaurants. In addition, throughout the day attendees participated in online networking sessions, interacted with speakers and attended a virtual black business expo. A number of businesses presented their products and services in a virtual environment.
John Beasley, a North Omaha native, was recognized with the African-American Legends Award for his international work and success in the areas of acting, directing and producing.
The afternoon featured well-attended sessions on: addressing racial unrest and the health pandemic; preparing youth to lead; creating new models for black-led revitalization; developing districts and spaces where African-Americans and others can gather socially for arts, culture and entertainment; and mobilizing voters to impact policy.
National leaders and Strategic Advisors included: George Fraser, CEO – FraserNet; Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO –BCT Partners; Dr. Pamela Jolly, CEO – Torch Enterprises; Marshawn Evans-Daniels, CEO – FaithPreneur; Jaylen Bledsoe, CEO – Bledsoe Collective; Shawn Dove, CEO – Black Male Achievement and Mayor Melvin Carter, first African-American mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Regional speakers and panelists included: Tawanna Black, CEO and Founder – Center for Economic Inclusion; Dr. John Odom, Founder of Charles Hamilton Houston Institute; Dr. Lance McCarthy, Founder – Ferguson 1000; Klassie Alcine – Executive Director – KC Common Good; and Tracy Singleton, Director Quad-City Empowerment Network.
Local leaders included: Dr. Cheryl Logan –Superintendent-Omaha Public Schools; John Ewing, Jr. – Douglas County Treasurer; Ben Gray – City Councilman – District 2; Richard Webb – CEO – 100 Black Men of Omaha; and 30+ speakers and panelists.
Groundbreaking Redefine the Game Institute featured on KETV’s Chronicle hosted by Julie Cornell
Published: July 20, 2020
“This is a pivotal moment for our country,” said Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO and Co-Founder of BCT Partners. “If we work together, as the Network says, we can transform the country and transform Omaha.”
Three years ago, Damita Byrd and Willie Barney of the Empowerment Network and WDB Resultants worked with Dr. Pinkett & Dr. Jeffrey Robinson of BCT Partners to convert their bestselling book, “Black Faces in White Places,” into a year long curriculum and cohort. The response and results have been overwhelmingly positive.
Pinkett is no stranger to Omaha. He has been a featured keynote speaker and strategic partner with the Empowerment Network for the past five years.
“Omaha is like a second home for me,” said Pinkett. “The Redefine the Game Institute is expanding nationally, especially with the racial equity and diversity issues facing our country, but it started in Omaha in partnership with the Empowerment Network, WDB and BCT Partners.”
One of the goals of the program is to help facilitate the movement of African-Americans into leadership positions within corporations, organizations and to the next level with entrepreneurial endeavors. Over half of the original participants have received promotions or moved into new positions that are more aligned to their purpose and life mission.
The program has captured the attention of local and national media. Julie Cornell, co-anchor for KETV Channel 7 in Omaha, featured the Redefine the Game Institute on Thursday, July 16th in a 2 minute news story. Cornell was so intrigued and impressed by the program and the results that KETV decided to dedicate a 30 minute Chronicle edition to it on Sunday, July 19th.
The special segment includes interviews with Dr. Pinkett and two graduates of the program, Maurice Kimsey II, an Electrical Engineer with OPPD, and LaKeisha Gatson-Dunham, a Senior Director with Union Pacific.
“Redefine the Game can be whatever you need it to be,” said Kimsey. “The program takes high potential African-Americans and helps them grow in managerial and leadership skills.” In his interview, Kimsey focuses on building trust and creating pathways and pipelines for African-Americans.
“The group process allows you to learn strategies from others in different sectors and organizations who are like you that have similar experiences,” said Gatson-Dunham, who started with Union Pacific right out of college and has been promoted to Senior Director of Commercial Strategy and Pricing. Gatson focuses on common voice, strategies and the classroom perspectives brought by different personalities.
Now headed into its third cohort, Redefine the Game works with African-American professionals, community leaders and entrepreneurs to maximize their gifts and strengths, enhance their leadership skills, build their network and advance their careers, businesses and communities.
“I believe it is more important now, than ever before, to teach black business professionals how to organize, strategize, network, plan and create a successful career plan,” said Damita Byrd, Sr. Director for Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at BCT Partners.
Applications for the 3rd cohort are open until July 31st. To learn more or to apply: Redefine the Game Application
Here’s the link to the 2 minute news story: Redefine the Game Story
Here’s the link to the 30 minute Chronicle story: RTG Chronicle
The Redefine the Game Institute is part of the Empowerment Network‘s Advance Omaha Racial Equity and Diversity initiative in partnership with BCT Partners. To learn more more: Advance Omaha
Douglas County takes historic first step: Declares Racism as a Public Health Crisis with 22 Actions
Published: June 20, 2020
Moving beyond the protests and demonstrations, the Douglas County Board of Health took a bold step on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 and declared racism as a public health crisis.
In the midst of a world-wide pandemic, national unrest and spirited debate regarding police brutality and excessive use of force, Douglas County is stepping up to lead the way to begin addressing racism head on.
(Commissioner Chris Rodgers, Chair of Douglas County Board of Health)
“We see this as a first step, an important, big and bold first step to educate the public, solve some immediate problems, but most importantly dismantle a structurally racist system and build a new anti racist system,” said Chris Rodgers, Douglas County Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Health.
Over the past few weeks major corporations have made public statements and some have pledged significant dollars to begin addressing systemic racism in the workplace and in the community. This move by the county shows that public entities are also preparing to fight the battle.
Over the years, protests have generated headlines and attracted major media coverage, but after the smoke clears the demands for change are typically met with small incremental progress or in some cases increased resistance and backlash. There are early signs that this time will be different.
The county resolution is just one example. Within the resolution, twenty two specific actions are identified. In order to make a real impact, each of the elements must be fully implemented.
“This provides a foundation to really begin addressing the issues directly,” said Rodgers.” It provides us a way to assess everything we are doing as it relates to race.”
Some of the components of the resolution include:
- Establishing and supporting an Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice
- Including in any decision making the people most affected by heath and economic challenges
- Advocate for relevant health policies to improve health in communities of color
- Commit to conduct all human resources, vendor selection and grant management activities with a racial equity lens
- Promote racially equitable economic and workforce development practices
- Establish alliances and secure adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above objectives
Just last year, the county in partnership with the Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee, commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the lynching of Will Brown. It was a memorable show of unity in the city as people of all races and ethnicities remembered the horrible lynching and burning of a Black man during the 1919 race riots, but leaders pledged to never let it happen again.
Participants also committed to working together to improve race relations and address long-term social, health and economic issues.
As the calendar turned to 2020, within three months the nation and world were dealing with the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Through the impact of the Coronavirus, underlying health disparities and economic inequities have been exposed at an unprecedented level.
African-Americans and people of color are once again disproportionately diagnosed with cases and are dying at an alarming rate from the disease.
After years of research and work to improve health conditions and some targeted efforts to address the social determinants of health, county officials started along the path of officially recognizing what many in the black community have known forever, racism is having a devastating impact.
(Photo: Dr. Adi Pour)
“We have been tracking the health data since 2002 and there’s been very little progress and some measures are now worse than they were,” said Dr. Adi Pour, Director of the Douglas County Health Department.
“Coronavirus has further exposed health disparities, where 77 % of the COVID-19 cases in Douglas County impact the minority communities. It is time to address the underlying causes, i.e. the structural and institutional policies that have disadvantaged our minority communities. It’s time we work together.”
With the number of COVID 19 cases still escalating as the virus continues to spread and unrest locally and nationally persists regarding excessive use of force by the police, the county resolution and forthcoming actions should make a difference. To be effective, influential and impactful, the group must sustain the effort, reform policies and align investments to directly address the problem.
This is a big first step and should be recognized and celebrated. Now the real work begins.
(City Councilman Ben Gray, member of Douglas County Board of Health)
“There is a sense of urgency to finally do something about this,” said Ben Gray, City Councilman and member of the Douglas County Board of Health. “The city and county have the opportunity to reform and change these systems and structures. We must get it done this time.”
Click below to read the resolution and 22 action steps:
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