Open Letter to Pittsburgh: 'When we are all protected, cared for and cured, we can become a city reborn' | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Open Letter to Pittsburgh: 'When we are all protected, cared for and cured, we can become a city reborn'


Open Letter to Pittsburgh,

YWCA Greater Pittsburgh is asking our Pittsburgh leaders to be inclusive in your emergency planning efforts related to COVID-19. There are wise, caring, thoughtful Brown and Black leaders, women and men, second and third language experts, whom you must include in your planning efforts, online team discussions and emergency conference calls. Seek them out and include them. Your attention to the disproportional impact of this disease, the response to its spread, and who gets tested can have a negative impact on Brown and Black people. We ask that your research-based approach uses data to serve the city with equity so that those who are high risk, vulnerable, or marginalized, have the same compassion and care needed to thrive and survive.

Anyone can contract COVID-19 but the impact in some communities can be more severe. In this not-so-livable city, Brown and Black people are often those with low paying jobs, limited access to affordable child-care, reliant on public transportation, lacking in quality healthcare, living in food deserts, distant from hospitals, living in over-crowded housing, and with lack of access to culturally competent health care teams. In addition, these are also communities who may have higher instances of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.


In Pittsburgh, where studies continue to highlight the rampant racism in this not-so-livable city, equity during this pandemic could be the hope that we need. Interrupt the status quo here that has for too long, engaged only those in the same circles. Pandemics have no racial boundaries; when we are all protected, cared for and cured, we can become a city reborn. Speak out against racialized fears of the other, actively dispel myths, call out racial misinformation, be inclusive in how you allocate resources, do not allow xenophobia in any spaces, and be sure that the diverse languages in our communities have a voice. COVID-19 is reminding us that ALL of our health is at stake when only ONE of us has health insecurity.

Barbara Johnson,
Senior Director of Race and Gender Equity
YWCA Greater Pittsburgh

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