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Contra Costa County Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis

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Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Screen Shot of Virtual Meeting

During a virtual meeting on Nov. 10, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors declared racism a health crisis and unanimously approved establishing an office of “racial equity and social justice.”

Board Chair Candace Anderson acknowledged that COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black and Latinx people and that these disparities existed prior to the pandemic.

Supervisor John Gioia said “[a] perfect example occurred to me. Many years ago, the health department found a higher rate of breast cancer among . . . {Black} women in various age groups. As a result of that, the health department initiated a program to address that and found it was really about earlier screenings.”

Gioia and Supervisor Federal Glover have raised $250,000 from community groups to help budget the “racial equity and social justice” office.

Glover said: “[t]he killings we have seen take place over the years – and the death of George Floyd – have brought to the attention of a nation the racism and inequities that take place within our – – – justice system.”

Glover added: “[i]t’s important we take a strong look at what’s taken place with our employment here at the county level, and to maybe be a light and to show people we are the leaders, that we are making a difference in society as a whole because it’s very reflective of our demographics here in Contra Costa.”

No date has been given when the office will launch with three staff members. The resolution states its mission is to “eliminate inequity, harm, discrimination and bias. The office will cultivate an “ecosystem rooted in belonging, mutuality, equity and justice.”

The resolution also states: [t]he need to change is urgent . . . . And the opportunity for change is now.”

The city of Oakland established a Dept. of Race and Equity in 2016. San Francisco established the Office of Racial Equity in 2019 and on November 4, the city of Martinez established the Anti-Racism and Discrimination and Pro-Inclusion and Diversity Task Force.

 

Resolution:

In the matter of: Resolution No. 2020/306
Declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis.
WHEREAS, it is the mission of Contra Costa County to provide public services which improve the quality
of life of our residents and the economic viability of our businesses; and
WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is internalized or
interpersonal and systemic racism that is institutional or structural; racism is a system of structuring
opportunity and assigning value based on the color of one’s skin that privileges white people; and
WHEREAS, throughout our nation’s history, racism has had lasting negative effects on groups including
Black/African-Americans, Latinx, indigenous, and people of color; and
WHEREAS, racism also intersects with other forms of prejudice and oppression to increase adverse
outcomes including discrimination based on immigration status, gender and sexual orientation, and mental
and physical abilities; and
WHEREAS, antiblack racism dehumanizes and marginalizes Black/African-American people and also
affects other communities of color by privileging those with lighter skin; and
WHEREAS, these lasting negative consequences such as economic instability and poverty, barriers to
educational attainment, and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system have a radical effect on the
lives of Black/African-Americans and other people of color living within Contra Costa County leading to
avoidable adverse health outcomes and unnecessary loss of life; and
WHEREAS, Black/African-Americans and other communities of color are disproportionally impacted by
health disparities and social and environmental conditions including increased exposure to lead, poor air
quality, lack of safe places to walk, bike, run, live, and play, and inadequate access to health services and
information; and
WHEREAS, disproportionately higher rates of chronic disease, shorter life expectancy, maternal and infant
mortality, and health inequities for Black/African Americans and other racial groups are widely recognized
and documented, yet continue to persist throughout Contra Costa County; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial and social inequities by disproportionately
impacting the Latinx community in particular as well as other communities of color; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services cares for and improves the health of all people in Contra Costa
County, and yet as a system has perpetuated racism and anti-black racism; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa County has made efforts to address health and social inequities that exist,
through the work of various programs and initiatives, but it is not enough; and
WHEREAS, the continued and unnecessary loss of Black lives including Miles Hall, George Floyd,
Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, calls upon the County to be visible in our outrage,
and, more importantly, in our resolve to work for change; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa County recognizes that racism is a public health crisis that affects all members of
our community and deserves action from all levels of government and civil society;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County asserts
that racism is an urgent public health emergency affecting our entire community; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that Contra Costa County encourages other City, Local, State, and National entities to
recognize racism as a public health crisis; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services commits to working to end racism and healing the harms that this organization has perpetuated;
and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services supports community efforts to
amplify and address issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color in
our county; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services commits to combating
both explicit and implicit bias, with an emphasis on evaluating personnel practices including recruitment,
hiring, retention and promotion to ensure diversity amongst all levels of staff; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services supports the adoption of the County’s Racial Equity
Action Plan and other efforts to address equity in internal policies, procedures and programs; and BE IT
FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services will hire a Chief Equity Officer to align and
build on health equity efforts in our department and across the County; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,
that Contra Costa Health Services will develop a Health Equity Plan for Contra Costa Health Services
along with a measurement dashboard; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services will participate as a host organization in the community planning process to establish a County
Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services will support the development of a strategy for immigrant inclusion in partnership with the
Department of Employment and Human Services as part of the community planning process to establish an
Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services will launch Living Contra Costa, a strategic vision, with an emphasis on equity; and BE IT
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors does hereby support the
efforts to achieve health equity and a welcoming and just Contra Costa County.

Bay Area

THE DISTINGUISHED JARENA LEE AWARD PRESENTED TO OAKLAND SENIOR PASTOR

Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 476 34th Street Oakland, California is excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, senior pastor was awarded the auspicious Jarena Lee Award.

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Historic rendition of Jarena Lee, the first female preacher in the A.M.E. church

  Dr. Rosalyn Brookins. Courtesy of Parks Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 476 34th Street Oakland, California is excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, senior pastor was awarded the auspicious Jarena Lee Award.

Jarena Lee (February 11, 1783 – February 3, 1864) was the first female authorized to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. History shows she was born into a free, Black family. Lee saw the immorality of slavery.  At a time period of segregation and inequity, A.M.E. Church founder Richard Allen gave her the opportunity for her voice to be heard despite the fact that there were no provisions for a female to preach. Rev. Lee showed determination to let her voice be heard and to share the holy word, despite racial and gender issues.  Further, Lee was the first African American woman to have an autobiography published in the United States.

During the 5th Episcopal District A.M.E. Founder’s Day Service, the Award was presented to Brookins by Rev. Carieta Grizzell, president of Women in Ministry and pastor of Murph-Emmanuel Church in Sacramento, Ca.  This esteemed award is the highest commendation that a female minister can receive in the A.M.E. Church.

There are many parallels between  Lee and  Brookins.  They both blazed a path forward through adverse circumstances and applied the lessons they learned to their spirituality.  Their similar experiences as female ministers reinforce their relationship with God.  They maintained a steadfast hope in and a strong love for his divine majesty.  

Brookins is the only Episcopal supervisor of the Women’s Mission Society for the A.M.E. Church to be given a pastoral appointment as senior pastor.

Brookins earned her doctoral degree from Payne Theological Seminary in 2018, making her the first inaugurated female to be conferred with the noted degree.  She was the commencement speaker during the graduation.  Her dissertation was entitled “The Rebirth of the Woman’s Prophetic Voice: Using Liberation Theology to Impact the Local Congregation.” 

In 2018, Brookins presented a pilot program in South Africa and subsequently launched the Global School of the Prophets.  While there are many prophetic schools, this is the only type of school that ministers to both clergy and lay women. Brookins exudes great enthusiasm and passion about teaching and she graciously shares her expertise regarding prophecy.  Her courses provide an overview and structure that encourage individuals to develop, explore and expand their prophetic knowledge and understanding.   

The highly organized and comprehensive curriculum includes coverage of the Introduction and  Origin of the Prophetic; Prophetic Call;  Prophetic Ministry;  Prophetic Terminology; Nine Prophetic Traits, and Prophetic Training and the Church.   Students currently participating in the second cohort of the Global School are from the United States, India, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad. 

Just as Lee showed a drive and commitment to serve,  Brookins has the same qualities.  She is an honorable, steadfast pastor who is obedient to all that God has called her to do.  She is a strong leader, and a visionary who genuinely loves preaching the word of God.  Rev. Brookins’ unconditional love and genuine personality has touched the hearts of many.  Her prophetic ministry, powerful sermons and prayers consistently instill hope and inspiration. 

Lee traveled extensively preaching the word of God.  Rev. Brookins has preached the gospel in multiple pulpits across the country, including Canada, Zambia, India and South Africa. 

Regarding his mother’s receipt of this prestigious award, Sir Wellington Hartford Brookins said “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of my mother.  She is an example of perseverance and daring determination.  She inspires me to move forward every single day and that’s why this award means so much to her and to me.”

Brookins said she is “humbled that the men and women of God felt I deserved such an award. I am moved that God saw it fitting for me to receive such an honorable award.”

The Jerena Lee Award is an amazing recognition of the contributions of Rev. Brookins to the theological foundations of the church as a whole.

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Bay Area

Rush bowls

The perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers.

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Rush bowls are the perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers. Packed with nutrients and fully customizable, Rush bowls offer healthy, delicious alternatives to standard fast-casual fare. Rush bowls is open Mondays-Fridays from 10am-6pm at 350 17th Street, Oakland,CA 94619. Available for indoor dining, and delivery through GRUBHUBhttps://rushbowls.com/oakland

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Community

City of Oakland Announces Appointment of New Fire Chief

Prior to the City of Hartford, Freeman served as the fire chief for Lockheed Martin and served as a civilian fire chief in Iraq for the U.S. Department of Defense from 2004-2008.

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City Administrator Ed Reiskin announced on Wednesday the selection of Reginald D. Freeman to serve as the next fire chief for the City of Oakland, effective May 17.   

    Freeman most recently has served as the fire chief for the City of Hartford, Conn., since 2016. He will take over for Deputy Fire Chief Melinda Drayton who has held the position in an interim role since April 2020.   

    “Mayor Schaaf and I are excited that Chief Freeman has accepted our offer to become the next fire chief for the Oakland Fire Department at a very dynamic time for both the fire service and the city of Oakland,” said Reiskin. “Recognizing the importance of this position, we undertook an exhaustive recruitment process and we’re extremely confident that Mr. Freeman is the right choice for this moment.

    “He brings a tremendous level of professional experience leading fire departments and emergency management functions, has demonstrated a strong commitment to professional development, and built a successful track record of achieving strategic goals and objectives at every step of his career,” Reiskin said.  

   Prior to the City of Hartford, Freeman served as the fire chief for Lockheed Martin and served as a civilian fire chief in Iraq for the U.S. Department of Defense from 2004-2008. He has worked in several fire service capacities in his career including firefighter/emergency medical technician (EMT), fire captain, fire service instructor, assistant fire chief, and fire chief.  

    “I am sincerely humbled and honored to have the confidence of Mayor Schaaf and Mr. Reiskin to serve the great City of Oakland and the men and women of the Oakland Fire Department as fire chief,” Chief Freeman said. “OFD is a proud organization comprised of consummate professionals.” 

    Freeman has a Bachelor’s degree in leadership, a Master’s degree in executive fire service leadership, and is a Harvard Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers USA Branch and a chief fire officer designee and serves on the Board of Directors for National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). He is married to his wife of 17 years and is a proud father to two daughters.  

L. Autumn King is a public information officer in the office of the City Administrator of Oakland.

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