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Contra Costa County Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis




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.



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.


East Oakland Organizer Needed

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance (EOSA) is seeking an Oakland-based grassroots organizer for a short-term engagement to help grow and mobilize our coalition! Comprised of local businesses, workers, labor organizations, and community members, we are deeply concerned about the Oakland A’s proposal to leave the Coliseum site in East Oakland and build a new stadium at the port. An ideal candidate has on-the-ground campaign field experience, a strong awareness of Oakland and Alameda County political figures, and deep ties to East and West Oakland communities. Being a local resident of Oakland is a plus.

Employment with EOSA is a part-time role and will last for a minimum of four months with an opportunity to extend longer. Transportation and cell phone use would be reimbursed and candidates of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

If interested, please send a cover letter and resume to Emily Penrod, For more info about EOSA, visit our website and check us out on Twitter @AllianceOakland.


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