EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE
NAACP volunteers helped with fundraising efforts during the Dr. Martin Luther King Day event.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove an unverified comment regarding Springfield police.
As Lane County celebrates Black History Month, it’s important to consider how equity is practiced, said Ibrahim Coulibaly, the president for the local chapter of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The majority can support minorities in three points: by creating a welcoming environment, by listening to and sharing experiences, and by learning about and addressing issues of racism in your community. In doing so, Lane County can strive toward equitability, he said.
Originally from West Africa, Coulibaly has lived in Eugene for 10 years and served as the president of the Lane County NAACP for two years. He is also a human rights coordinator for the City of Eugene, and is passionate about inclusivity across the entire Willamette Valley.
Coulibaly said the first step is to create a welcoming environment where POC people can feel safe. In these safe spaces, people should be fully informed about their available resources and be encouraged to use them, he said.
“When you are dealing with a community that has a history of being victimized by the system, they are not necessarily willing to go to the government for what resources they may have access to,” Coulibaly said.
As a community-based organization, the NAACP provides resources about the COVID-19 vaccine “to get people to have faith and also trust science and the government to provide them with a safe and reliable vaccine,” as well as help for those infected with the virus.
Because of historical racism, Coulibaly said the pandemic has made it especially hard on Black essential workers who are concerned about the credibility of the vaccine because Black people have historically been used as “guinea pigs,” and many lost their lives.
In 1932, the Tuskegee Study was conducted by the Public Health Service and Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where 600 Black men received a new treatment for syphilis. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Tuskegee timeline, there is no evidence that shows these men were informed of the study’s purpose. In exchange for participation, they were offered free medical exams, meals and burial insurance.
Penicillin was discovered as the solution for syphilis in 1947. However, these men were never given adequate treatment for their disease, nor were they given enough information to begin with to provide informed consent.
“So for that reason, I still have a lot of pushback on the vaccine or a lot of concerns,” Coulibaly said. “Some people are taking it because they’re essential workers and have to take it to continue to work. But people aren’t necessarily looking forward to it.”
The second way to practice equitability is to ask POC to share their experiences with inequality and racism.
“If you do bypass or work with a Black person, encourage them to share their history and their stories, because we’ve faced different things at different times,” Coulibaly said.
The NAACP legal redress committee hopes to make police reform recommendations to the City of Springfield about following up on complaints so people can trust the reporting system. The NAACP is also working to expand their presence in Cottage Grove.
“If you live in a city where you cannot trust the police, what is the point of remaining?” Coulibaly said.
Coulibaly also recommends supporting the POC community by taking initiative into one’s own hands by asking questions, researching and taking action when appropriate are all important things to form a community that celebrates differences.
“Look around you, is the community diverse? If not, why?” Coulibaly said. Taking initiative to do what you think is good to address the issue is always welcome.”
A new crisis line for racial equity support can be reached at 503-575-3764.
Feb. 13 @ 6:00 p.m.
Feb. 14 @ 4:00 p.m.
Fermata Ballet Collective Presents “VIRTUAL” Debut 2021 Virtual Concert
Fermata Ballet Collective presents VIRTUAL, a dynamic and progressive body of works. Fermata Ballet Collective is a group of dancers in the Pacific Northwest who have found their careers and projects on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fermata offers opportunities for dance art in a respectful and safe manner during the pandemic with a focus on inclusive movement and social justice. This multifaceted concert emphasizes the diversity of expression within the Pacific Northwest dance hub.
Feb. 17 @ 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Underground Railroad & Black History Conference: Temple U Join the Department of Africology and African American Studies for the The 17th annual Underground Railroad and Black History Conference titled Digital Learning: Black History, Underground Railroad and Emancipation.
Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO)
For over 30 years the mission of ACT-SO has been to prepare, recognize and reward youth of African descent who exemplify scholastic and artistic excellence.
Contact: [email protected]
Community Alliance of Lane
CALC works to educate and organize for peace, human dignity, and social, racial and economic justice.
Springfield Alliance for Equity and Respect (SAfER)
City Wide Unión de Activistas (CWUdA)
Back to School/Stay in School Program
Contact: 541-484-1119 or [email protected]