We watch in horror the heinous murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and then as peaceful protests erupt into violence across our country. We commend Napa Police Chief Robert Plummer for kneeling with protesters after they agreed to leave the streets at Third and Main and stay on the sidewalk Sunday night. Yes, racism and the resulting inequalities are alive and well in Napa County, and it’s time we all face that fact.
We have heard over and over that climate change hurts the most vulnerable of us first and most. Covid-19 also bears this out. The number of African Americans dying from the virus, and the number of Latino and Hispanics infected, are disproportionately high, due in part to economic inequalities, the need to work, housing conditions and equitable access to healthcare. For a compelling and in-depth look at these disparities and the data, see this eye-opening NPR article which includes interviews with doctors in San Francisco.
We must acknowledge what is happening to Latinos in our community. A recent objection by the Napa County Farm Bureau to the Governor’s executive order to extend Worker’s Compensation benefits to farmworkers who contract Covid-19, deemed essential workers, appears to ignore the fact that these are the men and women of the vineyards who do the work that creates the vintners’ wealth. Most farm workers, almost exclusively Latino and Hispanic, do not have the economic option of staying home without compensation.
Stories are being told of what it’s like to be Latino or African American in Napa County, and it’s high time we listen. Forester and conservationist Aldo Leopold stated that until we heal our relationships with each other, we cannot heal our relationship with the earth; and conversely, until we heal our relationship with the earth, we cannot heal our relationships with each other.
It’s time we value the diversity of our community, whether it’s that of the flora and fauna of our Napa County or the color of the skin or the nature of the culture of our neighbors. Only then will we have the resilience to make it through the coming challenges of the Climate– and Social– Emergency.
Credit and thanks to Diversity Watch Napa for the above videos.