BLOOMFIELD, NJ – In an effort to bring the community together, Bloomfield conducted the first of two additional community discussions about the topic of race on Wednesday evening via Zoom.
The event, moderated by Councilwoman Jenny Mundell and coordinated with the assistance of Councilwoman Dr. Wartyna Davis, focused on race and health disparities and the social construction of race and its real-life implications.
Wednesday’s guest speaker for the discussion was Michellene Davis, Esq., Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for RWJBarnabas Health.
“We are not only talking about the social impact and community investment, but access to transportation to a job that puts you on a pathway to a livable wage, and the access to get affordable treatment you deserve,” said Michellene Davis. “There is an opportunity right now to cure what ails us, and I’m not necessarily talking about COVID-19. During these recent times, COVID is a great magnifier in what we are seeing as far as structural inequity and racism.”
The purpose of the community conversations on race is to allow an opportunity for residents to learn from experts what Bloomfield can be doing better regarding race issues.
“We need to have a dialogue back and forth, and we need to keep a laser focus on those within our footprint, regardless of race, including essential workers, first responders and pharmacy workers in our community,” Michellene Davis said. “We know that the pandemic has driven us into a recession, and it’s really important that we keep our minds’ eye open and realize that some vulnerable areas within our communities are already in a depression.”
“We need to figure out how we can address these issues from a township point of view,” said Mayor Venezia. “I believe that these conversations provide us with valuable insight that along with the Council, we will use to make meaningful changes in our community.”
With many conversations about race taking place in communities across America, Bloomfield feels strongly about including discussions about health disparities into their ongoing discourse with the community.
“I really like what is happening in Bloomfield, and I may have to move there,” Michellene Davis said with a smile.
A follow up community conversation will be held via zoom on Wednesday, July 29. Desyra Highsmith, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Clara Maass Medical Center and Wendy Christensen, PhD, Associate Professor and Assistant Chair, Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice at William Paterson University, will be the guest on the 29th.
“Getting the opportunity to listen to both experts and members of the community about all of the different ways that systems in place impact racial inequalities has been invaluable,” said Mundell. “I am proud of our community for coming together over the last several weeks in solidarity around many of these issues, and we plan to take that energy to impact change.”