During February we celebrate Black History Month – a time dedicated to honoring the achievements, struggles, cultures, and heritage of Black communities. Yet while we celebrate, we remind ourselves that this recognition and respect are values to uphold every single day of the year. There is still so much work for all of us to do when it comes to dismantling racism and advancing equity. At Wallace, we want to do our part and to be accountable to our community for our efforts.
We’d like to express our gratitude to the following Black-led organizations who we are proud to partner with as members of the Rockwood Food Systems Collaborative. Their work inspires us, teaches us and leads the way toward food justice for our community. Please join us in thanking them for their amazing work!
Action You Can Take During Black History Month
We have several important opportunities to move social justice forward here at home. Our state legislature is considering several actions to address environmental, employment, legal, and economic inequities in Oregon. As a community health center, Wallace supports these efforts to improve health and social equity in our state.
We urge you to learn more about these topics & join us in asking your legislators to pass these essential bills
House Bill 4005: The Child Care for Oregon Priority Bill
Oregonians are fighting for an economic investment in child care in order to help our communities recover from the pandemic. We have seen the devastating impact on employment when parents can‘t find child care, especially for mothers and families of color. For this reason, we urge you to contact your state lawmakers today and tell them to pass the Child Care for Oregon Priority Bill (HB 4005). Learn more about HB 4005 or contact your state lawmakers using this easy form https://childcarefororegon.org/action
Through this bill our goal is to:
- Increase the amount of money for providers who accept Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) subsidies. We are aiming for more equitable rates and this will also increase purchasing power for parents who utilize ERDC.
- Suspend the rule that requires sprinkler systems for in-home providers until 2024
Our budget request includes financing for:
- 2 Direct relief payments to currently-working child care workers
- Recruitment and training for new child care providers
- Direct grants to expand existing facilities (of all types)
- Creating a more equitable and beneficial public child care system for both parents and providers through increased funding for
- Child Care Resource & Referral Services
- The Department of Early Learning & Care
House Bill 4085 + Senate Bill 1536: Emergency Heat Relief Bills
Just over the past few years, Oregonians have faced devastating wildfires, months of smoke, unprecedented ice storms, and other extreme weather events. Health professionals, energy advocates, environmental justice organizations, and more, are coming together to support these Emergency Heat Relief Bills in order to help protect families from extreme weather conditions in Oregon. Contact your legislator to express your support for the Emergency Heat Relief Bills in the 2022 Oregon Legislature using the following link: https://rogueclimate.good.do/emergencyheatrelief/emailaction/
Emergency Heat Relief Bills will help Oregonians by:
- Deploying emergency AC + air filtration during heatwaves and fire seasons
- Investing in energy efficient heating and cooling pump installations, specifically prioritizing low-income, people of color, and rural households
- Removing barriers for renters to safely install portable air conditioners
- Funding extreme weather shelters, such as cooling, warming, and clean air shelters.
Senate Bill 1579: The Equity Investment Act
Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities have been, and continue to be, unjustly targeted by law enforcement and incarcerated at higher rates. This results in exclusion from full participation in the benefits of citizenship which includes: voting, employment, housing, and health care. All of these factors have contributed to the ever-widening racial wealth gap.
The Equity Investment Act aims to create economic equity and restore community resiliency in communities most harmed by the criminal justice system. Passing this act will establish a fund which will provide grants to community-based organizations that support workforce development, job training, business development, and paths to home and land ownership.
Learn more about the bill here: https://oregonequityact.com/bill/
Send a letter to our state legislators: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/support-senate-bill-1579-the-equity-investment-act
House Bill 4002: Farmworker Overtime
Oregon farmworkers ensure that our families are healthy and well-fed and their hard work supports our entire economy. Currently, Oregon farmers are not required to pay their workers overtime, even though the majority of them work 40+ hours a week during peak seasons. In 2020, Oregon farmworkers made, on average, less than $20,000 a year. Washington and California already have farmworker overtime laws and if we don’t begin to pay Oregon’s skilled farmworkers what they deserve, we will lose these essential workers.
Today, most farmworkers are from Latinx and Indigenous communities. This bill will not only support Oregon’s farmers but also help Oregon’s Latinx and Indigenous communities by ensuring that they are being paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week.
Contact your legislator to express your support using the following link: https://www.fairshotoregon.org/farmworkerovertime
Let’s take a look at history’s Black pioneers who helped create the public health sector as we know it today. All of these individuals both led by example and actively paved the way for a more inclusive health field, in both hiring practices, and inclusion through challenging past practices and ideologies.
James McCune Smith was a physician and the first Black individual to earn a medical degree.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler was a physician and medical writer and the first Black woman to earn her MD in the United States.
Robert Tanner Freeman was a dentist and the first Black individual to receive a dental degree in the United States.
Mary Eliza Mahoney was a private nurse and the first Black woman to study and work as a professionally licensed trained nurse in the United States.
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins was a dentist and the first Black woman to earn a dental degree in the United States, a Doctorate of Dental Surgery.
Adah Belle Samuels Thoms was a nurse and one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses.
We’d also like to take the time thank these individuals who are currently taking steps to actively challenge past practices and ideologies – thank you for all you have done and all you continue to do in the fight for equity within the health community.