As pastors of predominantly Black congregations in Nevada, we have seen first hand the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had in our communities in terms of physical, mental, and financial health. Congregation members have passed away, lost loved ones, lost employment, and lived in fear and uncertainty because of a lack of access to healthcare and housing security. Whether it is infection rates, death rates, or unemployment rates, our communities have borne the brunt of the pandemic. This is true around the country, where the pandemic has laid bare long standing inequities and injustices that continue to marginalize communities of color.
For example, a member of one church believed she contracted coronavirus. Unfortunately, a COVID diagnosis was met with fear and trepidation. Because of a lack of access to healthcare, and the fear of an exorbitant bill the physical symptoms were made worse by mental anguish. The weight of a pandemic should not be coupled with the anxiety of a lack of coverage. The mental weight of being uninsured and Black is enough to make you want to holler. We must soberly and resolutely address this issue. This is far too common a story in Black and Brown communities over the past year.
As faith leaders, our call extends beyond sermons on a Sunday morning. We are compelled to not to perpetually put band-aids on deep wounds. We are called to seek justice and restoration, to build communities rooted in abundance, compassion, and equity. Nelson Mandela said, ‘there is no such thing as part freedom’. Over the past year, we have seen that call to justice very clearly in the national movement to transform our criminal justice system. We also need to be fighting for equity and justice on many other fronts: housing, education, healthcare, etc.
Now is the time to start making our communities whole. Now is the time to build a new normal, especially for communities of color.
That is why we are in support of the Nevada Healthcare Public Option. This is a critical solution to creating affordable insurance options that make it easier for Nevadans, including people of all backgrounds and incomes, to afford and access health insurance so we can all stay healthy. This healthcare option would save Nevada families on their premiums and out-of-pocket costs by leveraging the state’s purchasing power in order to negotiate lower prices for care from providers and for prescription drugs. It will also limit the amount that hospitals and drug companies can charge patients and by forcing insurance companies to compete for your business with a lower-cost public plan. This healthcare option will make sure that every community has at least one high-quality, lower-cost healthcare option. Bringing healthcare costs down and increasing access will ensure Nevada is improving health equity for communities that have been priced out of our healthcare system for far too long.
Our faith leads us to imagine a world in which all people, regardless of the color of their skin, are able to live full and healthy lives. SB420 is a step towards making this moral imagination a reality. This imagination tells us to cry aloud and spare not, to lift our voice like a trumpet in Zion. This imagination calls us to earnestly contend
Elder Ender Austin, III
Rev Dr. Karen Anderson
Bishop Donald Calvin Bronson
Pastor Leroy T. Carr
Rev. Willie R. Cherry
Pastor Carey Conner
Rev. Raymond Giddens, Sr
Pastor Daryl E. Harris
Pastor DeWayne McCoy
Bishop Designate Bill McDonnell, Jr
Imam Fateen Seifullah
Pastor Bobby Smith
Rev. Dr. Welton Smith
Pastor Philip Washington
Rev Kelcey West, MDiv