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Alaska Black Caucus to feature several events before end of June

Discussions of election, health care take center stage and offer learning opportunity
Alaska Black Caucus to feature several events before end of June: Discussions of election, health care take center stage and offer learning opportunity
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 9:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While Juneteenth observances are wrapping up, the Alaska Black Caucus is gearing up for several big events taking place in the next week, each of which is focused not so much on history or celebrations, but on the future of the Black community in Alaska and how to better serve it.

The first event is a discussion to include the top few candidates who are part of the special election to decide who will complete the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young’s term in office. That talk is one of the ABC’s Community Conversations, with that series of discussions focusing on race and equality in the community, and typically taking place on a weekly basis.

The chats, which are open to the public but require online registration beforehand, also offer an opportunity to become more informed about those who are part of the Black community, and the struggles minorities continue to face.

“Get in the trenches with us, and advocate for equality and justice,” said Celeste Hodge Growden, who serves as president of the ABC. “There’s a lot of work to do, and we need our allies.”

Community Conversation: Alaska Congressional Special Election has been scheduled for Sunday, June 26, from 7 to 8 p.m. on Zoom. Hodge Growden said to expect the series to continue: discussions next month will focus on topics such as race and education, on July 10; healing from racism, on July 31; and other subject matter on July 17 and July 24, the details of which are to be announced in the near future.

Also happening next week is an event to include a review of ABC’s 2022 Black Health Assessment, which analyzes a sweeping survey and seeks to not only assess but also address the community’s health needs.

Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, discusses Juneteenth.

“It’s important to have this study, because there’s never been one before specifically of the Black community in the history of Alaska,” Hodge Growden said. “Black people are disadvantaged across the entire healthcare system, and carry a disproportionate share of the burden.”

Black Americans, she said, often remain marginalized and suffer high health disparities – those “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations,” according to the Centers for Disease Control — and are often excluded from public health data.

Among other things, the assessment looks to understand the health status of Black Alaskans, document their perspectives, and produce a detailed, high-quality report.

“This study sets the stage for subsequent action,” she said in part, “to advance advocacy for health promotion within Black Alaska.”

Special speakers — including social work experts and mental health counselors — and a short film will be featured as well during the event on Thursday, June 30, at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium from 6-8 p.m.

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