San Diego County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas announced Wednesday they will ask the Board of Supervisors at its Jan. 12 meeting to pass a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis and supporting actions to have the county address systemic racism.
"In declaring racism as a public health crisis, we are acknowledging that racism underpins the health inequities throughout the region," said Fletcher, who was elected chair of the board on Tuesday.
"So much of the division we face as a society is the result of intentional government policies put in place to perpetuate systemic racism. The only way you address it is to come back with intentional government policies designed to dismantle the barriers of oppression and move toward equality of opportunity and access for Black and brown people. This resolution and these policies are an important step toward creating a better future for all San Diegans," he said.
According to the supervisors, as the public health agency for the County of San Diego, there is a responsibility to tackle the issue of racism and make substantive changes to county operations.
The proposed measures in the board letter are intended to ensure the county is making decisions based on equity data, promoting health equity and engaging communities in a participatory process.
Some of the proposed policies include:
- Creating a process to solicit community input to identify policies and practices that lead to or perpetuate disparities;
- Revising the county and board's statement of values, mission, vision, and strategic plan to represent equity and inclusion as a core principle;
- Incorporating a section titled "Equity Impact Statement" in the board letter template for all county departments to identify and determine a systematic approach with standardized guidelines; and
- Enhancing data collection capabilities to identify disparities among programs and services that are meant to improve health, social, economic, educational and criminal justice circumstances.
"As our county comes together to tackle the global pandemic of COVID- 19 that has disproportionately impacted communities of color, we must also collectively recognize we are facing the pandemic of systemic racism here in San Diego County, which demands our attention and requires long term change," said Vargas, vice chair of the board. "In declaring racism as a public health crisis, we establish a commitment to disrupt and dismantle oppressive systems and we take the necessary steps to remove the barriers that prevent diversity, equity and inclusion.''