To celebrate Black History Month, we asked a few Black community leaders in Santa Cruz County to share what Black Health Matters means to them to bring the Black Health Initiative conversation to the table.
This is Angela Chambers.
Angela has been a part of the Santa Cruz County community for over 10 years.
She is the Development Director, Programs Manager, and a teaching artist at the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center in Santa Cruz (I only teach dance at motion :)
Angela’s additional passion alongside dancing is teaching and advocating for youth empowerment and the health and wellness among young dancers, as a certified Health and Wellness teacher for the Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (Y.P.A.D.) and through her BA in Intensive Psychology.
Last, but not least, she is a Project Manager for the Black Health Matters Initiative, also serving on the Advisory Panel.
Question - Please share what Black Health Matters means to you:
Angela - “This initiative is the convergence of my deepest passions as an artist and an organizer, my professional experience within development, and what I’ve always dreamt of happening for my community. Community care is self-care. The work being done is elevating the lives of the Black community extensively, including my own.
Creating safe spaces and opportunities for networking, sharing of stories, resource allocation, and general understanding and support within the Black community in Santa Cruz is revolutionary. As a predominantly white community, Santa Cruz is having to come face to face with the reality of what it is like to be Black in this county. Being the bearers and executors of that message and the work that goes along with it is a huge undertaking BHM has committed to. And I am honored to be on board as Project Manager, Advisor, and community member.
“Black Health Matters; Black futures matter; Black love matters; Black Lives Matter”.
Question - How has the Black Health Matters initiative connected Black community members during a time of virtual spaces and isolation?
Angela - “Through all of our click and mortar events. From Self Care Saturday to the Virtual Bbq, the Thanksgiving concert, Stay-At-Home programming campaigns, Free public County sponsored virtual class library, health and wellness podcasts, etc - BHM is working hard to ensure we combat the reality of isolation in the Black community in spite of the challenges Covid presents. We are finding new ways to gather and connect and to facilitate safe and elevating spaces”.
Question - If you’ve participated in Black Health Matters activities, what has been your favorite? Why?
Angela - “As manager and curator of these events I have been to all of them! The bbq has been my favorite so far, although they have each been incredible. Why? Because it was a successful execution of a spin on a traditional celebration! Preparing and sharing good food, employing and then enjoying black musicians and artists, and the thread of messages on the chat! Felt like we were really together”.
Question - How have the pandemic and racial revolution impacted our local Black community?
Angela - “Aside from the overwhelming reality that the pandemic has disproportionately affected Black Americans and of the varying social determinants of health that affect the Black community, the increase in isolation has had a deeply significant impact. Black community members have long reported feeling a heavy sense of isolation from one another; whether it be simply not knowing of the resources and opportunities to connect, not seeing many other Black folx around, or through experiencing the covert racism and discrimination that thrives in “liberal” spaces like Santa Cruz County. Covid has made it so that people are disconnecting more and self-isolating further.
However, since George Floyd’s murder and the wave of action that took place in response to it, Black folx have been coming together in whatever capacity they can to rally and fight and support the movement. This work has led to racism being declared as a public health crisis, the BHM initiative, and much more”.
Question - What are a few actions that can be done to ensure an equitable and inclusive Santa Cruz County for the Black community?
Angela - “The county and city must get behind, fund, and openly advocate for the work that is being led by The BHM team and beyond. Santa Cruz must come to terms that there is serious work to be done to address the quality of life for Black (and BIPOC) residents of Santa Cruz. Real tangible actionable steps need to be put into place in regards to education, financial stability, community engagement, and mental health”.
We are honored to highlight Angela for her leadership, passion, and integrity throughout Santa Cruz County as a dance teacher, youth health & wellness advocate, and equity champion.
Thank you, Angela Chambers, for your continued work to advocate for justice this month – and every month – for our Black community in Santa Cruz County.