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Published 06/24/2020 | Reading Time 5 min 9 sec
By Susan Porter, Health Committee Chair, Oklahoma State NAACP
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Governor of Oklahoma Kevin Stitt and Mayor of Tulsa, G.T. Bynum wanted so much for Oklahoma to receive national recognition, and they were successful in doing just that! Complete disregard and disrespect for our Freedom Day Celebration, Juneteenth, indifference to the history of the Greenwood Race Massacre, encouraging large group attendance, while not practicing social distancing or wearing face coverings was front and center on our local and national news.
“Slow down the testing!” Those were the words from the President, Donald Trump, this past weekend in Tulsa. The number of cases in Oklahoma continues to rise. To argue an increase in positive cases is due to increased testing is an invalid argument.
Governor Stitt and Mayor Bynum — if you really want to add value to someone’s life, stop trying to IMPRESS them and INSPIRE them. Inspiration will fuel their passion and purpose. The ability to awaken the greatness in others is a far better contribution to our culture than “trinkets”. Let that sink in. We are not randomly testing individuals for the sake of testing.
This virus does not discriminate; however, we know it affects African Americans at a disproportionately higher rate. Covid-19 not only affects our health but to add insult to injury, the impact financially and professionally is profound. Historically, we have and continue to fight against injustices, disparities, racism, and prejudice. We remain in a position that requires us to fight for our lives, directly and indirectly: directly as we have seen with one of Oklahoma’s own Isaiah Lewis, followed by nationally recognized deaths of Ahmad Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rashawn Brooks to name a few and indirectly because of food deserts, poor health education, lack of insurance or medical resources/facilities.
We have witnessed busier restaurants, stores, and bars as of the latest phase to reopen. The caution and care we took 1-2 months ago do not seem to exist for a great majority of people. More and more Oklahomans are experiencing symptoms; therefore, being tested. The increase in cases is due to more and more Oklahomans failing to wear facemasks and social distancing.
Many in our community have not returned to work; small businesses are partially open or completely closed. Oklahomans continue to await unemployment benefits, and due to a slow, ill-prepared system, continue to suffer the inability to manage their financial responsibilities and worse case have faced eviction.
Change in our country is happening quickly. Universities are changing building names, historic monuments removed, the Confederate flag banned at NASCAR, police officers arrested and charged for murder. White Americans are open to conversation, willing to acknowledge their “White privilege”, and address “white fragility”. Now, everyone is in a place where we can talk about change and work together to make that change happen.
As promising as this is, we cannot afford to be blind and silent to the systematic change we need. We need more health care professionals of color. We need health education in our schools, healthy lunch options for our children. We must focus on our mental, oral, and physical health. The changes we need are determined through policy and legislation.
The changes we need are determined at the polls. One of those changes is increased health care coverage for more Oklahomans and State Question 802 is a great place to start. We are part of the change we need.
For these very reasons, I implore you to join your local NAACP and visit our website www.oknaacp.org complete the census, reach-out to your state and local elected officials and be sure to give your thoughts on this issue by casting your vote on June 30th and in November. let us make a resounding noise together with our vote!
We understand that “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced” James Baldwin – VOTE!