The following statement has been approved by a majority of VashonBePrepared Board Members June 7, 2020. Thanks to President Vicky de Monterey Richoux for crafting this.
In recent weeks we've witnessed devastating news of yet more innocent Black people being
killed by police. Use of undue force has been used against peaceful protestors while they were
exercising their First Amendment rights, further inflaming the situation. These events occur not
in a time of relative political, economic, and social ease, but after months of fears, tensions,
illnesses and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Systemic racism combines with the COVID-19 pandemic, or any type of disaster, to result in far
more dire outcomes for people of color, including:
History shows that, following any disaster, our most vulnerable
neighbors are affected first and worst.
- In King county, Blacks, indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) are sickening and
dying in disproportionate numbers. Health disparities of race and place over many decades have set
the stage for worse health outcomes from the novel coronavirus.
- In addition to suffering disproportionate job losses, people of color more often hold 'essential' jobs that
require in-person work, which puts them at far greater danger of contracting COVID- 19.
Rather than pull up the drawbridge, volunteers in Vashon’s preparedness community have
extended their hands: the Medical Reserve Corps' Rural Test and Trace Toolkit has been shared
to other rural and tribal communities around Washington state and beyond, and the testing
program here on Vashon is available to all, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Other
volunteers on the Emergency Operations team have made pointed efforts to aid groups of our
fellow residents who may experience barriers to communication and assistance, such as Latinx
neighbors and people with low- or no digital access. The Emergency Operations team has
prioritized getting information and aid to renters, families suffering food scarcity and housing
insecurity, struggling small businesses and laid-off employees, and isolated elders. The Situation
Reports published on the website now regularly include information on demographic disparities
relating to the pandemic. Vashon’s preparedness leaders are making plans to provide training to
all preparedness volunteers, in diversity, inclusion, and equity.
But there’s still much work ahead. Beyond posting hashtags on social media or making
donations in the moment, we each face the sometimes uncomfortable task of learning and
confronting our own implicit biases. In redressing racism, people with greater privilege are
obligated to continue speaking up on behalf of others with less voice, working for broader
inclusion, and insisting on equal justice for all. That ongoing work is perhaps the ultimate
expression of VashonBePrepared's motto, 'Neighbors Helping Neighbors'.