[guest post by Dana]
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is a government agency that coordinates medical care and social well-being in the Beaver State. During the pandemic, OHA was responsible for coordinating Oregon’s vaccination drive and disseminating information about COVID-19—both vital tasks.
The agency’s office for equity and inclusion, however, prefers not to rush the business of government. In fact, the office’s program manager delayed a meeting with partner organizations on the stated grounds that “urgency is a white supremacy value.”
In an email obtained by Reason, Regional Health Equity Coalition Program Manager Danielle Droppers informed the community that a scheduled conversation between OHA officials and relevant members of the public would not take place as planned.
“Thank you for your interest in attending the community conversation between Regional Health Equity Coalitions (RHECs) and Community Advisory Councils (CACs) to discuss the Community Investment Collaboratives (CICs),” wrote Droppers. “We recognize that urgency is a white supremacy value that can get in the way of more intentional and thoughtful work, and we want to attend to this dynamic. Therefore, we will reach out at a later date to reschedule.”
The report goes on to note that a county health official apparently fielding questions from puzzled members, directed them to a link that provided further information. This because Droppers didn’t respond to the inquiries made after sending her email out to community members.
The link redirects to a website that purportedly identifies aspects of white supremacy culture. The website was “conceived and designed” by Tema Okun, a white antiracist educator who has popularized the idea that several benign and widespread traits are actually characteristic of white supremacy. Among these are preferring quantity over quality, wanting things to be written down, perfectionism, becoming defensive, and yes, possessing a sense of urgency.
It’s funny because during my working tenure, I was a direct report to two Black women at separate times. Frequently, when a project came my way, it was accompanied by the grim directive that I was to drop everything else I was working on and prioritize the new project because it was deemed “urgent”. And who determined the urgency of the new project? Frequently, the boss of my boss: who was also be a Black woman.
Consider that at a certain point, women in labor need to rush to the hospital because at that very moment they are being held hostage by an urgency that is absolutely beyond their control. Fact: This happens to White women and Black women, and every other woman in between.
When little ones are poised to jump off the curb and run into the street, it is absolutely urgent that an adult snatch them up before tragedy strikes.
Fact: This happens to White children and Black children, and every other child in between.
Obviously, one could present an endless list of examples, but you already know this.
Coordinating with state agencies to disseminate information about health matters of concern to the public seems rather important. So if this really was about the health and well-being of the community, the Oregon Health Authority or any partners therein should shut down excuses like Droppers, sooner rather than later. The goal of well-being, good health *and* inclusivity is not helped by playing silly games that only serve to alienate people and screw with their lives.
[Ed. I actually think the program manager was likely unprepared for the meeting and made up what she thought would be an accepted excuse.]