by Alycia Ramirez
Since the death of George Floyd last spring, the term “Defund the Police” has jumped into the public conscientious, but not by some twist in fate or happenstance. The fight for police accountability and reform has been a generations-long battle, which has coalesced into what we see today with the Defund the Police movement.
In over 100 years of policing there has been repeated violence directed at Black and Brown communities at the hands of police, and little meaningful reform to stop or reduce it. White America may be just fine with doing the absolute bare minimum and maintaining the status quo, but marginalized communities may not be so willing to endure another century of violence directed at them.
The uncomfortable truth is that police forces were originally created in our nation for the purpose of upholding white supremacy. They were slave catchers, created for the explicit purpose of capturing runaway slaves.
Continue reading OPINION: Defund the Police Isn’t a Slogan, It’s a Call to Action in Response to Generations of Racial Violence and BIPOC Communities Should Be Leading
by Adana Protonentis and Jasmine M. Pulido
True accountability is about nurturing relationships.
Continue reading Dr. Ben Danielson’s Resignation Begs the Community to Question: What Is True Accountability?
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?”
by Ben Danielson
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.
Continue reading OPINION: A Time of Reckoning for Seattle Children’s Hospital
by Families of Color Seattle (FOCS)
We are horrified and deeply saddened by the latest news uncovering the egregious treatment of a Black student at View Ridge Elementary School. As recently reported by KUOW, a Black second-grader named Jaleel at View Ridge Elementary School was locked up in an outdoor cage without a table or chair, multiple times, left to eat his lunch off the tray on the ground. Adult school staff, entrusted to teach and keep Jaleel safe, decided instead that putting him repeatedly (sometimes for the entire school day) in a fenced outdoor space dubbed “the cage” was an appropriate restraint for a second-grader.
Continue reading No More Black and Brown Children in Cages: The Reality of Racism and Ableism in SPS Today
by Erica C. Barnett
(This article was originally published by PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Foreshadowing what will likely be a heated debate over Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan to wall off $100 million in the city budget for future “investments in BIPOC communities” that will be decided by an Equitable Investment Task Force appointed by the mayor, Seattle City Council central staff released an unusually blunt memo last week cataloguing potential issues with the mayor’s plan.
The memo raises two high-level issues with Durkan’s proposal. First, according to the staffers, it duplicates work that the City has already done, perpetuating the City’s practice of asking members of marginalized communities to provide recommendations again and again without ever taking action on those recommendations.
Continue reading Council Staff: Mayor’s Proposals Could Promote “Racism Cloaked in the Language of Anti-Racism and Equity”
by Gordon McHenry
In a couple of weeks, Washington State will mail out ballots for one of the most critical elections of our lifetimes. While every election is important, this upcoming contest has the potential to alter the course of our nation for generations, so every vote will count.
In the last presidential election, almost 77% of eligible, voting-age Washingtonians registered to vote — the highest percentage since 1984. However, turnout was only 65%. In King County, turnout declined by nearly 3% compared to 2012. Statewide, it went down by a similar amount.
While 65% turnout is high relative to other states, that leaves room for improvement.
Continue reading OPINION: Yes, Your Vote Matters
by Seattle Black Collective Voice
A man had been murdered by the police. A heartbreaking video of the killing had made it to the internet. Thousands watched as a policeman kneeled on George Floyd’s neck, while Mr. Floyd begged for his life in vain.
Like protesters across the country, Seattle took a stand against police brutality only to experience more police brutality firsthand. Even non-protesters were harmed by the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) negligence. On Capitol Hill, tear gas entered people’s homes and businesses, and the police did not care.
SPD voluntarily abandoned Capitol Hill’s East Precinct, and the neighborhood tone changed to one of collaboration. In a city physically divided by wealth and class, people came together around a common goal: ending police violence against the Black community.
Continue reading OPINION: CHOP Not the Beginning, and it’s Not the End
by Liz Covey, LMHC
“Miserable is exactly how the white people who want to help should be feeling right now, and then they should sit with that misery until something breaks in their brain, the narrative changes in their psyche, and the legacy of emotional paralysis lifts entirely.”
—Rebecca Carroll, The Atlantic (June 2020)
I’ve had this saying about my work for years now, and it goes like this: I will spend the rest of my career indebted to the (mostly Black) kids and foster families with whom I worked early on, and who had to put up with my sorry self, before I knew the damage I was causing as a white practitioner in Black spaces. I dedicate any good work I do today to these kids. In the spirit of Black Lives Matter, I Say Their Names, to myself, in my heart, on the regular.
Continue reading Calling Out White Supremacy in Seattle’s Mental Health Establishment: One Therapist’s Confession
by Ty Brown
What we are seeing today is not just about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and the horrific, continuous list of our murdered brothers and sisters — may they rest in power. This is about systemic injustice and systemic racism that has plagued this continent and our neighborhoods for 400 years.
These tragedies are constant reminders of the hate crimes, police brutality and systematic injustice the Black community faces far too frequently.
In Olympia, we’re thinking about our neighbors who have faced police brutality, negligence, and lost their lives due to an over-militarized and over-funded force: Yvonne McDonald, who died in mysterious circumstances; Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, who were shot at by Olympia police and then each sentenced to prison terms; and Jackie Salyers, a Puyallup tribal member fatally shot by police in 2016.
Continue reading OPINION: Defund Police and Defend Black Lives — Why We Rally