It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended much of life as we knew it. We’ve not only had to drastically change how we live, work, and play but also how we provide an education to our kids. With public schools across Washington just returning to a hybrid model after months of remote learning this school year, there have also been calls demanding that school districts open immediately for full-time, in-person instruction. However, these calls often ignore entirely the inequitable effects the pandemic has had on Black and Brown communities.
The demands for full-time public school reopening increasingly come from white parents who say remote learning is disproportionately harming Black and Brown families and who claim a full reopen would benefit Black and Brown kids the most. At School Board meetings, on social media, and elsewhere, I have heard white parents repeatedly professing their concern for the widening education gaps facing Black and Brown children and insisting the remedy is to offer five-day-a-week, in-person instruction — now.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. As we take time to reflect on the multitude of events that took place in the aftermath, it is important to remember — Floyd did not make a sacrifice. He did not choose to give his life in hopes that his death would lead to a national racial reckoning that would catapult our nation, and a large part of the world, into a summer of protest. George Floyd wanted to live. He literally pleaded for his life. He is not a martyr. He is a victim.
In reflecting on Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin, and the resulting protests and supposed U.S. “racial awakening,” it is hard for me to find a bright spot for this column. Police continue to kill citizens at the same rate they did before Floyd’s murder. In fact, since George Floyd was killed last year, 1,068 more people have been killed by police in the United States. According to data collected by the Washington Post, police have consistently shot and killed about 1,000 people per year since 2015. In 2021, we are currently on track to continue that fatal trend. And despite the nationwide movement in the wake of Floyd’s death calling to defund the police, many major municipalities, some of which vowed to defund, have failed to do so or defunded at miniscule rates.
It was one year ago this month that a journalist thrust into the ether an idea that the pandemic was going to have a disproportionate impact on People of Color. He shared stories about friends and their current and impending struggles. One poignant detail he shared: “The coronavirus has magnified stubbornly unbalanced accounts between those with plenty and those barely holding on.”
President Joe Biden’s multiple restructure plans focus significantly on building and creating new infrastructure, training trades workers, and supporting labor unions. However, without a cultural reckoning for the trades that addresses the toxic workplace culture permeating much of the industry and preventing nontraditional workers from entering or remaining in the trades, the restructure plan will further exacerbate the racial and gender disparities. Biden’s ambitious plans lean on the trades to address the economic impacts of COVID-19, the significant unemployment and the subsequent lack of health insurance.
However, the trades are rife with racism, toxic masculinity, and stagnant representation. For the restructure plans to succeed, the trades must address the toxic workplace culture to move the trades toward safety, inclusion, and not just cultural competence but cultural humility. Without safety, inclusion and humility, the restructure plan will further exacerbate the racialized inequality mirrored across America’s history and contemporary policies. ANEW and Reckoning Trade Project have an answer, and the compass to continue to guide. It starts with cultural humility.
Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.
(In Ichishskíin) Ínknash waníkxa̱ Mariana Harvey. Washnash Yakama kníck.
I’m Mariana Harvey. I’m an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. My bands are Klickitat and Sk’in-pah. I am also Táytnapam, Spokane, Choctaw, Swedish, and Black. Culturally, I was raised Yakama in the City of Seattle. Being Yakama and an Urban Native is how I orient myself in the world.
I am the wild foods and medicines program coordinator for Garden Raised Bounty, or GRuB, in Olympia, Washington. I’m an íła (mother), and I have a beautiful 2-year-old son named Áyut as well as a loving partner named Itsa. We all live together in the lands of the Squaxin Island, Nisqually, and Chehalis peoples, currently known as Olympia, Washington. I am honored to share a little bit about our journey re-Indigenizing our lives through parenthood.
The revolution, as they say, starts at home. When I was pregnant, I started to ask more questions about my grandmothers. What were their lives like? What was motherhood like for them? I’d grown up knowing that my paternal grandmother went to boarding school and that Ichishskíin was her first language. Due to the violence, trauma, and assimilation of boarding school, she did not pass on her first language in our family. It wasn’t until I was on my own motherhood journey that I really sat with these stories, sat with and appreciated the strength of my grandmother for all she went through raising seven children after what she had been through as a child herself. I had a moment where I realized, “These are the traumas we [today’s Indigenous families] are trying to heal from today.”
From a global pandemic to a renewed focus on social justice, many have suggested that historians will one day look back on 2020 as a turning point for our nation. Turning points can spark much-needed progressive change, but only if we cultivate it, educate our communities, and hold decision makers accountable.
The past year made it painfully clear that some of the very institutions designed to keep neighborhoods and communities safe and healthy are failing People of Color.
The COVID-19 pandemic underscored health care disparities that put People of Color at greater risk. The COVID-19 death rate among Black people is 1.4 times higher than among white people, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. In King County, data shows that confirmed cases, hospitalized cases, and deaths due to COVID-19 are all higher within communities of color than for white residents. Data also shows racial disparities in the national distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations, with Black and Hispanic people receiving smaller shares of vaccinations compared to their shares of cases and deaths and compared to their shares of the total population in most states. As Seattle physician Dr. Ben Danielson noted at a recent conversation that we hosted at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), “This is about more than science; this is about us.”
by Dr. Jane J. Lee, Dr. Ching-In Chen, Dr. Jacqueline L. Padilla-Gamiño, Dr. Beatrice Wamuti, Dr. Anna Zamora-Kapoor, Dr. Karin D. Martin, and Dr. Linh T. Nguyen
Over the past year, the coronavirus has drastically shifted how we live, work, and operate. As academic institutions across the country moved to emergency remote work and instruction, faculty adapted to changes in how we teach, conduct research, and fulfill other professional responsibilities. As many of these institutions prepare to return to largely in-person learning in the fall, we reflect upon our experiences to help inform how we can move forward.
As women or non-binary faculty of color who are early in our academic careers, we recognize that the transitions resulting from the coronavirus were particularly challenging for us to navigate given our multiple, marginalized identities. We already bear multiple burdens within academia given our first-generation status, the many requests to “represent” as the rare woman or non-binary faculty of color, and our voluntary commitment to mentor and build a pipeline for those who follow. This has also all happened during one of the most significant racial justice movements in the past year, which pushed issues of police murder and brutality against Black bodies and civilian violence against Asians into the public sphere as well as intensified nationwide anti-trans legislation. Layered on top of these burdens was the multiplier effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
(This is one of three essays from local community members that the Emerald will be publishing on this topic.)
Last week, the world watched as 22-year-old Muna El Kurd — in a viral video from her family’s home in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem — confronted Yacoub, a Brooklyn-raised Zionist settler who has forcibly taken residence in the El Kurd family’s garage since 2009.
“If I don’t steal your home, someone else will,” Yacoub said, gesturing matter-of-factly at Muna and her family members.
As disturbing as this justification is, it reflects the reality that, since 1948, Zionist settlers have been stealing Palestinian’s homes and land. Forced expulsions have been commonplace across Occupied Palestine since the expulsion of 750,000 Indigenous Palestinians from our homes during the 1948 Nakba, which established the settler state of Israel. They continue this project of ethnic cleansing today in Sheikh Jarrah, in the neighboring villages of Silwan and the South Hebron Hills, and across Palestine.
(This article previously appeared on Người Việt Tây Bắc and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
“Một cây làm chẳng nên non. Ba cây chụm lại thành hòn núi cao.” This Vietnamese proverb means that a single tree doesn’t matter much. Three trees together look like a mountain.
How does a refugee community like the Vietnamese achieve so much when we came with so little? My father, Kim Phạm, always stressed that the success of our community is rooted in a willingness to support and uplift one another so that we can achieve our dreams. We have been able to do so much more with what little we have because we have each other’s backs.
Many of these dreams started in Vietnam. Like hundreds of thousands of other South Vietnamese who fought against the communists during the Vietnam War, my father was forced into a communist prison camp to be reeducated in the years after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Inside the camp, he dreamed of starting a newspaper in the U.S. The dream was realized in Seattle, where my parents and I managed to find refuge after fleeing Vietnam as boat people. My parents named the newspaper Người Việt Tây Bắc (NVTB), which translates to “Vietnamese people of the Northwest.”
(This article originally appeared on Amara’s website and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
I’ve had the privilege of working within child welfare for almost 12 years now. My professional journey started in our state agency (now called the Department of Children, Youth and Families — DCYF) supporting children who were “legally free,” meaning children who the state has decided cannot safely return home and are now seeking to find forever families, typically through adoption or guardianship.
As a social work practicum student, I was able to immerse myself in the work of all aspects of child welfare including doing “ride arounds” with Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators and sitting in on intense family decision meetings. Throughout my career, I have always looked for the best ways to support kids and families in foster care, including looking at how best to support Black families caring for kids and youth in our immediate and extended families.
There will always be one family from that time who has stuck with me even after all these years.