The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color throughout the Bay Area — as of late April, state health department data showed Black Californians were dying from COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate of white residents. In the Bay Area, Latino and Black residents have been testing positive at much higher rates than other groups.
At a panel organized by the coalition of health departments known as BARHII, Black community leaders from fields ranging from public education to community development to transportation, said those most affected have not been given a seat at the table when it comes to determining the region’s pandemic response. In these excerpts from their remarks, they discuss initiatives they have set in motion to support their communities during the pandemic and what they would like to see done next.
“We have to center the leadership of those who are impacted by the issues. Too many people treat this like an academic exercise. It’s not academic. We have another saying: ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ We have to incorporate the wisdom of those who are experiencing these issues. This is how we can turn this moment that we’re in into a movement.”— John Jones III, director of community and political engagement for Just Cities