The false notion that America is in a “post-racial” era has come to an end, and diversity is trending! From Ferguson to the NBA to Silicon Valley, issues of race and diversity are forcing themselves into the mainstream and making national headlines. The question now is: how do we translate that renewed attention into policies and actions that will build a just, equitable society?
On May 8th, you can join that conversation.
Every year, The Greenlining Institute brings together top business, government, and grassroots community leaders at our Economic Summit to connect, brainstorm, and strategize on important economic issues affecting communities of color. This year, Greenlining is taking its 22nd Annual Economic Summit, #DiversityTrending: Building an Inclusive Economy, to the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE. We invite you to join us as we explore ways to advance diversity as a critical component of an inclusive economy, and honor visionary leaders paving the way.
To register and to learn more about the event, click here. Discounted early registration is available through March 13th. If you're unable to afford the registration fee, we have a limited number of scholarships available to waive the fee. To request a scholarship, please email Yurida Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 1, 2014, marked the passing of one of the great lights in the struggle for health equity – Lark Galloway-Gilliam. Lark served as the executive director of nonprofit health advocacy organization Community Health Councils (CHC) since its founding in 1992. That year may be a familiar one to the people of Los Angeles, and that’s because CHC was started as a direct response to the civil unrest. Many of the health care establishments that burned to the ground were owned by outsiders and perceived as out of touch with the needs of the community. Lark saw the need for change and – along with several other women in the community – brought together a coalition to address health issues in South Los Angeles.
Lark was a hero who fought for the underserved not only in Los Angeles and California, but across this country. She served as an innovative thinker in the public administration and nonprofit sectors for more than 25 years. She was the chair of the National REACH Coalition, a member of the Advancing the Movement Advisory Committee, and a Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Awardee. She served as chair of her local Neighborhood Council. Lark dedicated her life to social justice.
During Black History Month, we’re reminded that equality for the African American community includes health equity. A half century ago the civil rights movement succeeded in focusing the nation’s attention on the injustices faced by African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities and a broad consensus emerged – backed by a raft of federal legislation – in support of the idea that a person’s fate in life should not be predetermined by the color of their skin.
Although there has been incredible progress on a variety of fronts in the ensuing years, there remain significant disparities between the races in a number of critical areas, one of the most prominent being health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans and other people of color live shorter and less healthy lives than whites, and suffer from significantly and often dramatically elevated rates of, to name just a few, premature cardiovascular mortality, diabetes, and infant mortality. Researchers from the Institute of Medicine found that racial and ethnic populations receive significantly inferior health care services, even controlling for all other factors, resulting in worse treatment outcomes.
The passion for improving mental health services in California’s communities of color and LGBTQ population was on display today in Los Angeles at our fourth community town hall meeting to discuss the California Reducing Disparities Project’s draft Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities. Over 75 mental health advocates, providers, and community members gathered at the California Community Foundation to discuss the draft plan, which will help direct the state’s efforts to improve mental health services for its diverse population.
The primary topic of conversation was that community and traditional programs are vital for providing trusted mental health services and should not be overshadowed during the statewide process. The concern was how a western approach to medicine is not always the best way to treat mental illness in diverse communities. Many of the community members in attendance wanted to make sure that these community and traditional programs, which are already working, should not be subsumed by the western philosophy of medicine and treatment. These were great points and we will be sure to include them when we work on the final plan.
Like in the previous three meetings – yesterday in San Diego and last week in Fresno and Oakland – cultural competency was a key theme. Attendees wanted to make sure that cultural competency was adequately defined in the plan and that specific strategies were included to help achieve it.
The land of sunshine, celebrities, and world-famous beaches is also home to 5,000 active oil and gas wells. These wells are spread across 10 oil fields and 70 different sites embedded in neighborhoods, parks, and commercial districts throughout the City of Los Angeles. Although oil drilling occurs in diverse neighborhoods ranging from affluent Cheviot Hills to pollution-burdened Wilmington, in a new issue brief, Oil Drilling in Los Angeles: A Story of Unequal Protections, Community Health Councils found low-income communities of color in the City have fewer protections from the risks from local oil drilling operations than more affluent, whiter neighborhoods.
What does “fewer protections” mean? When Zoning Administrators for Los Angeles determined the terms of drilling in affluent communities in the 1950s and 1960s, they noted oil drilling was an activity more suited for industrial zones, and only allowed drilling in the Wilshire and West Los Angeles areas after a strict set of precautionary measures were enacted. Precautionary measures included enclosing drilling equipment and/or sites, monitoring air quality and noise levels, creating a 24-hour hotline for complaints and concerns, and setting stringent property screening measures like tall trees and walls to block sight of unattractive equipment. The oil drilling that occurs in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods is either at least 400 feet farther away from homes than in the lower-income communities of South Los Angeles and Wilmington — where the majority of the residents are Latino and African American — or is partially or completely enclosed to protect the neighboring community from the myriad risks. Conversely, oil drilling in South Los Angeles and Wilmington is not only closer to homes than wealthier communities, but also completely outdoors.