Bill (SB435) to Address Health Disparities for Latinos and Indigenous Communities in California Passes First Committee
| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Robert Nunez, LCHC
Cell: (805) 815-7730
Vanessa Teran, MICOP
Cell: (805) 978-6892
The bill introduced by Long Beach Senator Lena Gonzalez, in partnership with CBDIO, CIELO, LCHC & MICOP will require specified state agencies, including the Department of Public Health to collect and disaggregate data in a protected manner, to better understand and address the health-related needs of diverse Latino and Indigenous populations in the state.
(Sacramento, CA) – On March 28, 2023 Senator Lena Gonzalez’s (D-Long Beach) Senate Bill 435, The Latino and Indigenous Disparities Reduction Act, passed the Senate Standing Committee on Governmental Organization with a vote of 10-0. The bill aims to uncover health and related disparities by collecting and disaggregating more detailed data for Latinx and Indigenous Mesoamerican populations in California.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic – it became clear that some communities were suffering more than others due to the State’s inability to target resources quickly and in an accessible way to many minority populations. Specifically, Latino and Mesoamerican Indigenous Communities had the highest rates of COVID-19 infections and death (44.5% of cases and 42.1% of deaths in California) -and yet, state systems do not collect specific data on these subgroups. This bill would require departments who already collect data for most other California communities to more intentionally, and anonymously, collect data for these groups.
“Every community in California should have access to resources that can provide them with a healthy and full life, regardless of the language they speak or where they are from.” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Leaving minority groups out of state data collection systems is not only bad for public health, but will continue to put lives at risk. We must ensure that we are collecting data for these groups in a protected manner, to better research specific health disparities and to address them equitably.”
Latinos in California make up over 40% of the state’s population and vary widely in terms of ethnicity, culture, and language. Additionally, the United States is also home to more than 20,000 Indigenous language speakers from Meso and Latin America, the largest population residing in California. Latino subgroups and Indigenous Mesoamericans have specific needs – such as Indigenous language access – to obtain quality and reliable information and services from our state agencies and programs.
“This bill (SB435) was born out of the voices of community members seeking an equal opportunity to live a healthy and full life. We have a responsibility to continue fighting for those in our community who are currently being left out,” said Dr. Seciah Aquino, Executive Director for the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. “CA is privileged to have safety-net systems and resources that have the potential to lift and empower Latinx and Indigenous Communities – yet without detailed data on disparities, it is impossible to know how to equitably allocate resources. It is our moral duty to seek justice, data disaggregation helps us take the first step in the right direction. ”
SB435 is supported by statewide advocacy organizations and community based non-profits. Co-sponsors for the bill include The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO), Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) and Comunidades Indígenas en liderazgo (CIELO).
“Mesoamerican Indigenous communities have never had the opportunity to be counted as anything other than “Latino.” This erasure invisibilizes us as First People to this continent. There are 68 Indigenous ethnic groups in Mexico, each speaking their native language. Within those languages are an estimated 364 known language variants. In the state of Oaxaca alone, live 16 distinct indigenous languages that can also be heard in schools, homes and workplaces across the state of California. Documenting data here in our state, such as race and ethnicity for Indigenous and Latino individuals, is critical to shaping future policies that support our communities and their right to receive funding from government programs. Our language and ethnicity shape our heritage, which is part of our identity and power as a people and community.” Said Arcenio J. Lopez, Executive Director of the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
“Having data about indigenous people in California will bring visibility to our communities, often invisibilized by the dominant Latino narrative, that label us under one umbrella and does not take into account the many languages, backgrounds, and traditions. If we don’t exist in the numbers, we don’t exist at all”. Said Odilia Romero, Executive Director for Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO)
“SB 435 is the first approach at the State level that attempts to capture our presence, not as Latinos or Hispanics, but as First Nations. Disaggregating data is a crucial step for agencies to learn about the cultural and linguistic diversity of the communities they serve and a first step to ensure that they are working to respect the fundamental right of individuals to receive information and services in the language they understand and prefer,” said Dr. Sarait Martinez, Executive Director for Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indigena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO)
SB 345 will be heard next in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 11th at 1:30 PM. Learn more details here.
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her family. Website of Senator Lena Gonzalez: www.sen.ca.gov/gonzalez
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC)— is the leading statewide policy organization with a specific emphasis on Latino health. For over 30 years, LCHC has worked on transforming systems to achieve Latinx health justice. We pride ourselves in translating community solutions into equitable policy and lasting change. Learn more at: www.LCHC.org
Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) — is the leading Indigenous migrant organization on California’s Central Coast. For over 20 years, MICOP has worked on addressing inequities in health and language access through advocacy and outreach. We envision a strong indigenous immigrant community actively engaged to achieve just working and living conditions, equality, and full human rights in the broader community. Learn more at: www.mixteco.org
Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO), is an Indigenous women-led organization building power in the Indigenous communities from southern Mexico in the Central Valley and Central Coast for almost 30 years. Our mission is to foster and strengthen the civic participation, economic, social, and cultural development of the indigenous communities, as well as the resistance of the indigenous communities. Learn more at: www.centrobinacional.org