June 19, 2020
Today marks Juneteenth, the annual celebration of slavery’s end in the U.S. when word finally reached Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Let’s recognize this day and continue the conversations about racism, injustice and health inequity in our society.

This communication is only the beginning. We will continue this conversation with staff and our community around racism, health inequities and this important public health crisis. It may feel uncomfortable, we may stumble, we are not perfect, but we hope to work together toward a better, healthier future. 
A Message to Our Teams & Community
Black Lives Matter
As an organization, we have taken some time to reflect and deeply consider how to best engage on issues of racism and health inequities in our community and in our society. This is just a start, however; conversations within our teams revealed the following:

We must listen: We’ve heard from our employees and some in the community about how we can move forward together. Even though most of us in this community will never face the fear, frustration and anger of being profiled, discriminated against or possibly killed unarmed by the police, we must practice empathy—by listening to all points of view, acknowledging and trying to relate to another person’s pain and experience.

But first, we must listen, and remember to come from a place of empathy, kindness and compassion. Don’t assume you know someone’s intention or meaning. Ask questions…and listen to their answers.

We must learn: You may or may not have seen our social media post about health inequities and racism. Internally at the Health District we often reference the social determinants of health. What does that mean to us? It means the conditions where people live, learn, work and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. They include factors like socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood, home environment, employment, social support networks and access to health care.
Black Lives Matter. What does that mean us? This is what it means to us—It means we support and stand with our black employees and our black community leaders. It means we do not tolerate racism. It means we believe in equity, inclusion and health for all. Of course, we stand and support all our employees and community members, but we recognize the support needed for black lives now.

We must act: Out of an all staff meeting we have formed a staff working group to review BCHD’s existing policies, procedures, practices and programming to identify areas to improve, solidify or add our commitment to addressing racism or health inequities. For example, programming could include bringing back previous speakers on racism and inclusion, evaluating programs addressing underserved populations in our community or collaborating with community groups and individuals who are leaders around the issue of systemic racism.

As we work to create a healthier beach community, we can only move forward towards healing together. Now more than ever it is important we “walk our talk” and contribute to our collective healing by practicing even more empathy, kindness and compassion.