Tag Archives: Odessa Brown Children's Clinic

Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic: A Glimpse Back May Offer a Path Forward

by Beverly Aarons

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the United States 37th in overall quality of healthcare, right behind Dominica, Denmark, and Chile, but way behind our northern neighbor Canada, which ranked 27th, and our European ally, France, which ranked number 1. More babies per capita die (5.9 per 1000 births) within days (or weeks) of being born in the United States than in Iceland, Finland, and Japan combined. In Seattle, there are persistent racial disparities in healthcare – 6.9 Black babies die per 1,000 births compared to 4.3 deaths per 1,000 white babies born, and gaining access to quality healthcare informed by facts, not racist controlling narratives, is almost impossible. In a recent survey of medical students, 50% believed that Blacks experienced less pain than whites because of biological differences.

Black physicians are less likely to hold these kinds of biases, but there are only 45,534 active physicians identified as Black in the United States compared to 516,304 white physicians, 157,025 Asian physicians, and 53,526 Hispanic physicians, so finding a Black physician or medical institution operating with an anti-racist lens might be impossible for most of the 46 million Blacks in America. This is why Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation as the medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic is so significant to Seattle’s Black community. 

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Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Version of Accountability Fails to Prioritize Healing of Odessa Brown Families

by Adana Protonentis and Jasmine M. Pulido

In the weeks since Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation from the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) was made public, there has been an outpouring of shock, grief, anger, and loss from the community he served. Running consistently through these messages have been calls for accountability. But what does that mean?

“True accountability is not only apologizing, understanding the impact your actions have caused on yourself and others, making amends or reparations to the harmed parties; but most importantly, true accountability is changing your behavior so that the harm, violence, abuse does not happen again.” — Mia Mingus

In the United States, accountability is often transactional. Our criminal legal system is an example: Someone commits a criminalized act, they are assigned a punishment (jail or prison time, restitution, community service), they complete the punishment, and the case is closed. There are collateral consequences that continue to punish the “offender” for years afterward, and those who were harmed rarely find closure. The wound cannot heal. In this version of accountability, the community is not centered. There is a transaction between a system and an individual. The individual is punished, but no one is made whole.

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Seattle’s 39th Annual MLK Jr. March and Celebration

by Susan Fried

The Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and accompanying events, hosted by Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition (Seattle MLK), is one of the longest-running MLK Jr. Day celebrations in the country. This year, Seattle MLK adapted to the realities of COVID-19 and, instead of the usual job fair and rally held inside Garfield High School, the 39th-annual event was held entirely online and outside. In-person events on January 18 began in the parking lot in front of Garfield High with a rally that included a speech by Sean Goode, executive director of Choose 180 — an organization designed to help keep youth out of the criminal justice system — as well as performances by singers Sydney Coleman and Nyshae Griffin, and a presentation of a plaque honoring long-time Seattle MLK committee member, Tony Orange, given to his wife. Then, about a thousand people marched downtown to 4th Avenue and held another small rally. 

On their way downtown, the marchers stopped briefly at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic to show respect for Dr. Ben Danielson, the former senior medical director there, who recently resigned due to allegations of institutional racism at parent organization, Seattle Children’s Hospital. The marchers then continued down Yesler Way to 4th Ave. where another small rally was held, highlighting and critiquing the juvenile justice system, with speeches by civil rights attorney Sadé Smith and performances by D’Mario Carter and E-Rich.

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Dr. Ben Danielson’s Resignation Begs the Community to Question: What Is True Accountability?

by Adana Protonentis and Jasmine M. Pulido

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?”

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