This is what’s happening:

Following the August 11, 2015 approval to integrate the Departments of Health Services, Mental Health, and Public Health, the Board of Supervisors instructed its three directors, Dr. Mitch Katz, now retired Dr. Marvin Southard and Interim Director Dr. Cynthia Harding to develop a strategic plan to guide integration of the Health Agency. 

Accompanying the three directors in this planning process was Dr. Christina Ghaly and a second gentlemen employed by DHS develop recommendations behind closed doors without African American representation.  Despite Supervisor Solis motion to includeCultural and Linguistic Competenceas a Board Priority during public comments, the operational framework which includes eight strategic priorities with multiple goals, outcome metrics and major organizational next steps are once again being discussed behind closed doors with no interest in public comment.

Here’s what you need to know:

Cultural and Linguistic Competence respectfully considers the thoughts, belief and perception in how best to serve specific underrepresented ethnic populations.

The Health Agency final report included stakeholder input on how best to develop the Health Agency clearly indicated “Bottom up”change.

The overarching goal of the Health Agency is to reduce health disparities. By population African Americans are disproportionately represented and disadvantaged across the quality of life spectrum

The Health Agency will manage and disburse $7 Billion (DHS $4 Billion, DMH $2Billion and DPS $1Billion) annually while nearly $3 Billion in tax payer resources is generated through several propositions.

For instance: Proposition 10 is generating nearly $1billion annually in cigarette tax which has been leveraged to provide Health Services for all specifically undocumented. First Five is the recipient of these resource have developed 14 Best Start Communities in predominately Hispanic neighborhoods.

For instance: Proposition 63 is generating a $1 billion annually to transform the delivery of mental health services in five key areas. Recent data suggest African American children have doubled its rate of suicide comparative to adult white males and Latina women. NOT $1 dollar address this crisis among Black children yet, DMH has allocated additional funding to address this issue among Latina’s as well as support agencies helping immigrate children who recently fled from South American countries. A proposal came from the African American Underrepresented Ethnic Population Committee charged with being liaison between DMH and the community proposed a project for funding to determine how best to engage Black men to access and benefit from services that has been on DMH desk for 16 months NOTHING.DMH pulled funding from a prevention early intervention program serving Black males that provided jobs to transition-aged youth with NO explanation why.

For instance: Proposition 30 is generating a $1 Billion annually to provide supplemental support for children and vulnerable communities. In vulnerable communities’ children, youth and families are engulfed by Trauma yet there is no strategy to address this issue in funding. And, African American have pretty much been absent from engaging in the process with exception to the recent convening hosted by the Advancement Project which brought roughly 25 Blacks together yet, LAUSD proposal overlook the real issues of poverty.

Whatever your agency mission if you provide Health and Human Services, resources will be procured through this Health Agency if developed correctly. If you are prospering from this blatant discrimination, help us out.  But for all others, why are we working separately with no voice or strategy for effective engagement with the system?

Several reason why African American desire substantive change:

Historically, no-American system was designed to support non-whites. Therefore most, particularly our youth have simply given up forcing focus solely on self.

African American life expectancy is decreasing while other population increase. South LA before the recession was identified as a vulnerable community, since the cost of living has increased significantly forcing focus solely on self.

According to data a majority of “middle class” African Americans are in deep credit card debt and one missed paycheck from experiencing hardship poverty presents forcing focus solely on self.

African American are innovators of many capital driven products and services that have made many men and this country wealthy, yet we have no connection to the local or global economy forcing focus solely on self.

African American have a deep sense of distrust among one another, often pit against having to compete for scares resources which has threatened the sharing of one’s knowledge freely forcing focus solely on self.

African American participate on multiple local Alliances, Task-force, Coalitions, Cadre’s, Collaborations, Community Partnerships, Hub’s, yet we as separated forcing focus solely on self.

We are all demonstrated great individual leaders protecting what’s left of our South LA population since it has dwindled from 78% in the 80’s to 8% today. We far too often look for what’s wrong as oppose to what right.  Some will say, HE forgot to add an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, that’s why I’m forced to focus solely on self!

These are core reasons why we fail to commit to uniting under a common agenda.  We’re all “too busy” funding and running our organizations in an attempt to survive and do public good simultaneously.    

Why the African American Behavioral Health Care Coalition was formed.

 “You can solve problems with the same thinking that created the problems.” –Albert Einstein.

WE NEED ANSWERS:  Top down approaches have demonstrated never to benefit society.  Where is the transparency? Accountability? Respect? Who was selected to participate in working groups and what is the requirement? Are other Blacks involved? Are they employees of DHS, DMH, and DPS forced to comply to keep from voicing their sincerest opinion to avoid being ostracized by their employer? If members of the public are participating, how were they selected?

As current and future service providers, we cannot lay in fear that our funding will be pulled. Not wanting to be associated out of worry our agency will not reap public resources.  As it is, we’re not able to appropriate benefiting our constituents or self.

WE ARE THE VOICE OF THE REMAINING 8% of our POPULATION.

Such blatant act of discrimination reminds me of the disheartening saga between the Los Angeles Clippers and Donald Sterling. Players were pit with doing the right thing (boycott) versus continuing to claim their paycheck to feed their families. As professionals they continued to play yet, with a halfhearted spirits. Wanted to win, but not for their disrespectful owner.  I don’t desire to reignite this incident but, to make a point.  Keep in mind Donald Sterling said his words come from culture. If one of ourcommunities most beloved, Erving “Magic” Johnson is a N!gga, what are you? 

We are not in the game or at the right table to be appropriately served.

As professionals charged with serving our community, I am requesting that each of you demonstrate your leadership, insightful intelligence and disapproval to encourage the Board of Supervisors to open these meetings to the general public for input immediately.  It is our collective ingenuity that will set us free from despair if we work United.

Knowledge is Power if Shared.

Please understand, this is not about scolding Supervisor Thomas for those of you who hesitant to speak up.  The Supervisor like President Obama can do no more than set policy. Our collective voice of advocacy is required to shape policy outcomes. We cannot only march passionately to the polls and vote for candidates and propositions to return home proud as if our work is completed. Nor are we against our Hispanic brethren, WE ARE FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS/BLACK AMERICAN’s what ever your preference. 

Our Work Has Just Begun.

I’m certain each of you have expertise in one of the following eight priority areas that can contribute to the discussion.

1. Consumer Access to and Experience with Clinical Services
2. Housing and Supportive Services for Homeless Consumers
3. Overcrowding of Emergency Departments by Individuals in Psychiatric Crisis
4. Access to Culturally and Linguistically Competent Programs and Services
5. Diversion of Corrections-Involved Individuals to Community-Based Programs and Services
6. Implementation of the Expanded Substance Use Disorder Benefit
7. Vulnerable Children and Transitional Age Youth
8. Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention

If you do not wish to speak, show your support and sign up forwarding your time to Bruce Wheatley. Each speaker is allowed two minutes. I would like 7 people to forward their time to effectively make the case for public involvement in the decision making process that effects our health and well-being as providers of the county’s most vulnerable.  

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