Do Black Lives Matter in Sonoma County? – Sonoma Sun
The recently released Portrait of Sonoma 2021 report paints a bleak picture of disparate life expectancy gaps. The lifespan of black people is reduced by living here. To understand the context of this report, it should be noted that no data on the Black/African American community was collected for the previous 2014 report. The reason previously given by county officials was that Black/Afro -Sonoma County Americans are “statistically insignificant.” While blacks may be a smaller demographic than the total population than some of our neighboring Bay Area counties at 2.1% (US Census Bureau), there are over 10,000 people spread across the county. . A lot of work was done to ensure that data was collected on this community for this report. This is a call to quick action for a community that urgently needs support.
Systems that specifically deny advancement in the areas of health, economy, education, employment, housing, generational wealth and life expectancy must be fought. We know that the fight against blackness and discrimination has been written into the policies of our country by design since its founding. We know that discriminatory vehicles such as redlining, racialized management of real estate, and denial of loans, mortgages, and affordable housing have been embedded into the function of our federal, state, and local governments with the passage of the New Deal at the end of the Great Depression. We know that black home ownership is lower today than before the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. We know that Sonoma County, with its founding history of pro-Confederation and an exploitative agricultural plantation system, has displayed this same history of prejudice and racism against black people. The result is that these interlocking systems of racism reduce lives, well below the state and federal Human Development Index. In short, racism is a public health crisis in Sonoma County and should be declared as such.
Black residents of Sonoma County have a 10-year shorter lifespan than any other racial and ethnic group in the county and have lower academic achievement rates than the county average. Sonoma County’s HDI score for blacks has decreases from 4.68 to 3.99, well below the California HDI score of 5.85 and the US HDI score of 5.33. Black residents of Sonoma County live longer than three years less, on average, than black Californians. nearly 15 separate the life expectancies of black (71.0 years) and Latino (85.5 years) residents. Black tenants face the highest housing load in the county at 68%. Two out of three Asian and white households in Sonoma County own their own home, twice the rate for black households (34%). Blacks and Native Americans are overrepresented among Sonoma County residents without homes. Black residents make up about 2% of Sonoma’s population while Native Americans make up less than 1%, but these groups make up 6% and 9% of Sonoma’s homeless population, respectively. Black children and young adults are enrolled in school at a rate of 6 percentage points lower than the black state average. Black residents have the lowest enrollment rate at 69.3%. Among black residents, drug overdose deaths were five times higher in 2020 than the average for 2017-2019.
Many have fought for justice and fought for visibility on these issues, but it took black officials who no longer work for the county to present some of this data for the first time in its history. Black lives matter so little to Sonoma County that no one bothered to look. Former Health Department Services Director Barbie Robinson previously identified in the California Policy Lab’s 2020 report that black people are three times more likely to be heavy users of multiple systems and that we are portrayed in a way disproportionately among the unprotected population. Former Economic Development Council director Sheba Person-Whitley, who also authored the county’s racial equity pillar in the strategic plan, identified that black people occupy just 0.8% of owner-occupied housing , compared to 88% of whites. Despite all the data, the Council recently chose to allocate the least amount of funding to the racial equity and justice pillar in its five-year strategic plan. Who will take responsibility for these conditions and allocate funds and programs to address the fact that black lives are in danger here?
Sonoma County maintains conditions that reduce black life expectancies. Other counties across the state are paying attention to the urgent need for racial equity and justice and implementing programs that work to close generational gaps, investing in the future of black people. San Francisco Dream Keeper Initiative and San Diego black home buyers Grants program are concrete examples of commitments to equity. Despite more than a year of lobbying and commitment from black leaders and partnering with the Bay Area Black Health and Housing Task Force, Sonoma County has yet to taken action on the dismal results of the 2021 Sonoma Portrait. Black people are dying faster than anyone else in Sonoma County. It’s not fairness. It is an injustice. We are abandoned by this county. We call on the county and cities to allocate the necessary funds to address these disparities and to work with existing organizations such as the NAACP and the Sonoma County Black Forum to bring equity-based programs to the community.—
NAACP Santa Rosa-Sonoma County Branch
Sonoma County Black Forum
North Bay Darkroom
Petaluma Blacks for Community Development