The appalling death of George Floyd in Minneapolis recently is yet another horrible reminder of the extent of racial and societal inequity in America. It follows the horrific slayings of Breonna Taylor (fatally shot by police in Louisville on March 13, 2020) and of Ahmaud Arbery (fatally shot by a former Glynn County, Georgia police officer on February 23, 2020).
Members of the Nehalem Bay Health District (NBHD), The Rinehart Clinic, Nehalem Valley Care Center and the North County Food Bank (NCFB) have been working together for the last few months to understand and learn to respond to the deeply embedded racism – and the tolerance of that racism – that exists in the America of 2020. We are committed to policies and actions that respect and encourage diversity, create equity and ensure inclusion for all people.
One of the lessons of our work is that it truly matters how we as individuals respond to the reality of racism and inequity. To privately or quietly condemn the events in Minneapolis – or similar tragic events – while not publicly denouncing these outrages and joining the many voices calling for change is not acceptable. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.”
We condemn in the strongest possible terms what happened in Minneapolis and any racially motivated violence. We mourn with George Floyd’s friends and family and with all who have suffered. What has happened was wrong and tragic and must not be tolerated, accepted or ignored. Those responsible must be held to account.
The evidence is overwhelming that people of color, or those not part of the dominant white culture in America, suffer disproportionately the historic, original sin of America – racism. From our perspective, the current world and national public health crisis lays bare the depth of wrong that exists in a country of great wealth where many, many people continue to live on the margins, lacking economic security, health care and too often basic human dignity. The victims of COVID-19 have been overwhelmingly poor, African American or Latinx. We recognize that our systems, including healthcare, have been infected by racism, and that racial health disparities exist because of that.
Our commitment to the people we serve and represent is to never become complacent or accepting of evil against anyone. We have a responsibility – every one of us – to identify and denounce racism and hatred, intolerance and violence wherever it appears. Evil triumphs when good people do nothing. We must not let evil triumph.
Jeff Slamal, NBHD CEO
Marc Johnson, NBHD President
Lynda Chick, RN NBHD Vice President
Debbie Moberly, NBHD Treasurer
Barbara Edwardson, NBHD Board Member
Tom Mock, NBHD Board Member
Gail Nelson, Rinehart Clinic CEO
Dianne Bloom, Rinehart Clinic Board Member
Terra Marzano, LCSW Rinehart Clinic Director of Behavioral Health
Liz Vitale, LAc, Rinehart Clinic Licensed Acupuncturist
Leigh Ann Hoffhines, Rinehart Clinic Communications Manager
Debra Padgett, Nehalem Valley Care Center Administrator
Tom Ayres, NCFB Board President
Jackie McCrady, NCFB Board Vice President
Blaine Bocarde, NCFB Board Member
Mark Roberts, NCFB Board Member
David Flemming, NCFB Board Member
Joan’e Koyote, NCFB Board Member
Dave Orman, NCFB Board Member
Holly Smith, NCFB Board Member
Bill Wright, NCFB Board Member