Our Position

We want to live in a world where everyone has a cozy, safe place to call home, green spaces to exercise and play, clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, access to culturally appropriate, whole-person healthcare, and affordable, healthy and delicious food to eat. These are the foundations of good health.

In this world, we will all have the power to make decisions about our own bodies and health – to determine what thriving looks like for ourselves and our communities. We will be able to choose from a wide range of culturally-appropriate healthcare practices that ensure the wellbeing of our minds, bodies and spirits. We will be empowered with knowledge and tools to advocate for our health. Information will be accessible to people of all backgrounds, cultures, ages and education levels. And our medical professionals will reflect and address the needs of our diverse communities – especially those of us who have been most marginalized. 

In this world, our young people will look forward to appetizing school lunches, and will be welcomed by school counselors anytime they need support. Self-care will be the norm, and our health and wellbeing will always be prioritized – especially during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Issue

Disparities within the healthcare system are rampant, from access and affordability, to treatment and quality of care. People of color – and Black people in particular – have suffered at the hands of our medical system. Studies have confirmed what Black people have been reporting for generations: that hospitals and clinics are scarce in their communities, that healthcare is unaffordable, that medical language is hard to understand and culturally insensitive, and that medical professionals dismiss their pain and fail to offer them the quality care that white people receive – sometimes with fatal consequences. In its most sadistic moments, medical “professionals” and institutions have used Black and brown bodies to “test” a whole range of horrifying medical procedures and medicines.

The global COVID-19 pandemic brought these disparities into sharper relief, with inequitable testing and vaccine distribution across the country. It also highlighted the larger truth that health outcomes are a symptom of much greater disparities: in access to food, housing, safe and good paying jobs and green space. It is no accident that COVID-19 disproportionately affected our BIPOC communities – our health is made more precarious by the environments in which we live and work.

We live in a food apartheid. Grocery stores with fresh and healthy options are nowhere to be found in low-income communities and communities of color – and liquor and over-priced “convenience” stores abound. These kinds of stores crowd around high schools, offering cheap, unhealthy alternatives to school lunches which, though they now fit nutritional guidelines, are not very appetizing or enjoyable. 

People of color often hold multiple jobs and are still barely scraping by. These conditions lead to some difficult choices, like whether to see a doctor or go to work to put food on the table, pay rent and bills, and care for children. City planning and investments have ensured that some neighborhoods are well-maintained, with plenty of welcoming public spaces to walk, jog and gather, while others are boxed in by freeways or located near factories that pollute the air and water. For those who can’t afford to keep up with the ever rising costs of living, being unhoused has dramatic effects on health.

To add insult to injury, enormous amounts of money are poured into predatory advertising that feeds on poverty, stress and addiction. These communities, and young people in particular, are targeted for cheap, unhealthy foods, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and gambling. Mental health resources are deeply underfunded in our current healthcare system, and practically inaccessible to those who need them most. Deep social stigma keeps many people from reaching out for help, and BIPOC with mental health issues are left without any kind of social supports, and are often criminalized and killed when they are in crisis.

Our Strategies

Timeline of Wins in Health Justice

June 9, 2021 · 

Youth host townhall

YAPC hosts a youth town hall to share out about their newly published ‘zine along with findings from their community research project.

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April 21, 2021 · 

Statewide Friday Night Live Meeting

Kerman Friday Night Live (FNL) participates in leading the April Statewide FNL meeting where they presented about their Kerman Cares! Office of Traffic Safety Merchant Education Campaign efforts and chapter highlights.

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April 14, 2021 · 

Virtual I and E Days

In partnership and solidarity for a tobacco-free California, MYNT joined advocates throughout the entire state of California to inform and educate stakeholders on our tobacco control initiatives.

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February 17, 2021 · 

Virtual Black History Month

In collaboration with youth and adult allies in the African-American community, yli hosted a virtual Black History Month series to uplift Black voices of change in tobacco control, literacy, and leadership.

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May 14, 2019 · 

Fresno’s Responsible Neighborhood Market Ordinance Passes 6-0

On May 2nd, after 7 years of passionate advocacy, commitment, faith, and love, City Council passed in a unanimous vote the Responsible Neighborhood Market Ordinance, which will cap the number of liquor licenses in Fresno, especially in Black and Brown communities of central and south parts of the city.

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December 16, 2014 · 

Tobacco Retail Density Ordinance Passes

Youth leaders passed an ordinance that reduced the density of tobacco retailers in the City of San Francisco. More information can be found in the case study authored about this win: Reducing Tobacco Retail Density in San Francisco: A Case Study.

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