Since the beginning of the year, Asian Americans have come increasingly under violent attack. Elders have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the country from Oakland to San Francisco to New York City. In late February, Inglemoor High School Japanese teacher Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend were walking through Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) and were attacked without provocation. Nasu was knocked unconscious, and her boyfriend required eight stitches. Asian American community members in Seattle had already been experiencing racial slurs and aggression at increased rates since COVID-19 began in 2020. Then, last week, a 21-year-old white man murdered 8 people at massage parlors 30 miles apart in Atlanta. Six of the victims were Asian women. The businesses were Asian owned.
To say that Black Coffee Northwest, a new Shoreline-based Black-owned coffee shop, has had a tumultuous first six months would be an understatement.
Last October, right before their grand opening in the middle of a pandemic, Black Coffee Northwest was the victim of a racially motivated Molotov cocktail attack. Only a month ago, their property was defaced with swastikas. At the same time, the line for their drive-thru consistently wraps around the block, and concerned community members are actively donating money, supplies, and even volunteering to keep watch in the shop’s parking lot to prevent future attacks.
“We have people that are supporting us, people that are showing up. It’s also showing that there are people that … want this community to be better,” said Black Coffee Northwest co-owner Darnesha Weary. “And that pisses [our opponents] off even more.”
True accountability is about nurturing relationships.
It is generative and proactive. Accountability is a practice of relying on those we are in relationship with to help us see when we have stepped outside of our integrity and help us find our way back. In short, accountability is about caring.
This is what Dr. Danielson modeled, when he spoke of examining his own complicity in a system that exploited Black and Brown families as fundraising tools, while refusing to make meaningful investments in their wellbeing. Dr. Danielson’s integrity demanded that he leave Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH), as an act of care for the families he served. He was willing to sacrifice his 20-plus-year tenure at one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the nation to stay aligned with this level of accountability.
If we view accountability in this relational way, we get insight into how Dr. Danielson’s approach to health care deeply held the communities he served. When the Emerald spoke with South Seattle families, we asked them, “What did Dr. Danielson’s care feel like?”
I am a Black male pediatrician. I have severed my relationship with Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) and I expect they will soon make efforts to disparage my character. Leaving has been a deeply painful and difficult decision, particularly because in leaving SCH I must therefore stop working in its community clinic: the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.
The clinic, spiritually and physically separate from the hospital, is a special place with an amazing staff and a wonderful community of patient families that will forever hold my heart. A clinic born in the later days of another reckoning: the civil rights era. A clinic owned by SCH but brought into being by a mostly Black community that wanted their own space in the health care system. A place that treated them with dignity. A place where staff looked like them, in the heart of their community. And still today, a community of mostly poorer families from diverse backgrounds.
I have been part of the SCH organization since 1992 when I first cared for patients as an intern. I have continually worn an SCH badge ever since, working in just about every medical area of the hospital. I settled into my dream job with them when I became the medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in 1999. In the intervening years, the hospital itself has grown into a corporate behemoth. In the intervening years, our clinic’s community has been displaced by gentrification and the families we serve have suffered the consequences. By many measures, societally, our country has left Black families further away from the “American dream” than they were when MLK was alive.