NEWS GLEAMS | Report Seeks Solutions from Black Washingtonians; Crisis Line Supports Native Communities – South Seattle Emerald

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷
Washington State’s first Black-led philanthropy organization, the Black Future Co-Op fund, has published a new report titled “Black Well-Being: Moving Toward Solutions Together.” With a state-wide focus, the new report “examines the structural barriers behind the outcomes that Black Washingtonians experience, and elevates community-identified approaches that will result in the world we want to see.”
The report’s three major goals are to support collective organizing around Black people and communities across the state; to direct resources to invest strategically in Black prosperity, health, and well-being; and to inform policy change to fix structural injustices and advance equitable opportunity.
The main topic areas explored were Civic Engagement, Education, Economic Mobility, Public Safety, and Health. The report highlights a number of key metrics, including a number of improvements since 2015, such as an increase in Black people with health insurance, Black household median net worth, and household median income. There has also been an increase in Black representatives in the legislature and the percentage of Black students graduating high school and meeting 8th grade math standards. However, Black people in Washington State have seen a decrease in home ownership since 2015.
“Black Well-Being” builds off a 2015 report by Byrd Barr Place titled “Creating an Equitable Future in Washington State: Black Well-being & Beyond.” Almost a thousand Black voices contributed to the report via five focus groups, over 600 survey responses, five panels on five topics, and 75 in-person participants in a statewide gathering.
Visit their website to read the full report or see a summary of key takeaways. A Discussion Guide for community conversations is also available.
Recently launched is Washington’s Native and Strong Lifeline, with a specific focus on the state’s American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Operated by one of the state’s three 988 crisis centers, Volunteers of America Western Washington, calls to this particular 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline are answered by tribal crisis counselors and descendents closely tied to tribal communities. They are fully-trained in crisis intervention and support and also bring culturally-specific and relevant traditional practices focused on healing.
According to a press release from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), “Among Washington state residents in 2020, non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native people had a 34 percent higher suicide rate than the general population. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the barriers to care that Native communities face. As a result, during the pandemic, American Indians experienced higher suicide and overdose attempt rates — at least two times higher than that of non-American Indians.”
Callers to the Washington State 988 Lifeline will now hear an automated greeting that features different options, such as the Veterans Crisis Line and the Spanish Language Line. By choosing option 4, callers will be connected to the Native and Strong lifeline.
As reported by the Emerald earlier this year, Black, Brown, queer, and transgender communities often have a history of distrust with services such as 988. Some of the crisis counselors of the Native and Strong Lifeline, however, see this service as beneficial to their communities. Susan David, an Upper Skagit and Iowa descendent, said via the DOH press release, “Native people are often overlooked in this country. I feel proud and humble at the same time to be a part of Native and Strong Lifeline; that I may help Native people overcome the generational trauma that they experience daily. Also, it is my hope that I can be the voice on the other end of the line that can make a difference in Native women’s lives so that they feel they have a voice that could result in them not disappearing and becoming yet another statistic.”
The Washington State Election results from the November primary election have been certified by Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. Final voter turnout this year was at nearly 64% statewide, with more than 3.06 million active voters.
This year’s election hit some important milestones. According to the Secretary of State’s press release, the 2022 election was the first Presidential midterm since same-day registration was enacted in 2019 (SB 6021), and over 17,000 people registered in-person on the day of the election.
It was also the first election year since HB 1078 passed in 2021, restoring voting rights to  individuals who were previously convicted of felonies but no longer incarcerated. Lastly, 4.8 million voters were eligible to vote in the 2022 General Election — the highest number of registered voters on the rolls for any Washington State midterm election thus far.
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