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Community organizations backing California bill to collect data on Latinx indigenous groups

Several community organizations including Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) partnered up to push Governor Newsom to sign The Latinx and Indigenous Disparities Reduction Act.
Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 21, 2023

Several community organizations, including Mixteco Indigena Community Organization (MICOP), the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO) and Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO), have partnered up to push Governor Gavin Newsom to sign The Latinx and Indigenous Disparities Reduction Act (SB 435).

“Data is very useful and could be also very dangerous, really eliminating our existence because we technically don't exist in data when identifying as Latino,” explained Sarait Martinez, CBDIO Executive Director. “This is also extremely dangerous when we think about public health in not having specific profiles or like even knowing what are the priorities within our community.”

SB 435 would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Department of Social Services to gather additional demographic data to include Latino subgroups such as Salvadoran, Mexican, Peruvian, etc.

It would also require a breakdown of five Mesoamerican nations: Mixteco, Zapoteco, Triqui, Mayan and Aztec. Plus, the collection of information on 13 indigenous languages such as Mixteco and Náhuatl.

“There's a lot of like invisibility of these communities,” added Arcenio Lopez, MICOP Executive Director. “We are being trapped under the category of Latinx, Hispanic, when we don't speak, many of us, we don't speak Spanish.”

The bill is waiting for Governor Newsom’s signature. According to the U.S. Census, Latinos make up 40% of the state’s population.

“There's like very little being done to like get information out in the language or having proper training or access information,” Martinez added.

During a press conference on Thursday, activists said they want to make sure state agencies are prepared to serve the community in case of a natural disaster or a pandemic like COVID-19.

“A cost estimate that we received for the CDPH is about $2.1 million in year one, $1.4 million in year two and $900K annually thereafter,” said Seciah Aquino, LCHC Executive Director. “This covers five permanent staff positions, three two-year limited-term positions and contracting services.”

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is working on its ownIndigenous Enumeration Study, which should be released later this year.

“The Public Health Department offers Mixteco interpretation for services in our clinics and other programs,” said Tara Kennon, SLO County Public Health Department Public Information Specialist. “We also share information in English, Spanish and Mixteco on the radio and through efforts such as our Healthy Voices YouTube series.”

If the bill is signed by Governor Newsom, community organizations are hoping to collaborate with state agencies to reinforce that community trust.