Firing of Oregon Health Authority diversity chief sparks backlash • Oregon Capital Chronicle:

The sudden firing of the Oregon Health Authority’s longtime diversity and inclusion director has sparked shock among her allies — prompting a backlash as the agency’s new director, Sejal Hathi, tries to make progress on a range of issues.

This is great on so many levels. First, that the lede of the story isn’t that someone’s been fired, but that “her allies” are shocked. That’s the story. Oregon Capital Chronicle, you leftwing rag, never change. 

Second, if this is finally(!) a move away from the racist, identity-centered movement in government I will be thrilled. 

Third, you could fire a good number in the Oregon Health Authority leadership and I dare say the improvement would be automatic. It has been a horribly run part of Oregon state government, with years of gross mismanagement. 

After the agency issued a press release on June 21 saying she’d “left” her position, Leann Johnson confirmed to The Lund Report on Friday that she had been terminated. One of two Black people in the authority’s leadership, for more than nine years she’d directed its Equity and Inclusion Division, overseeing a broad array of programs intended to reduce health disparities. The firing came two days after Juneteenth, the national holiday commemorating the end of slavery.

I love that that the Chronicle is focused on (1) the number of Black people in OHA leadership and (2) making the pointless link to Juneteenth like we should all be offended. If Johnson had been fired a four months ago, I’m sure they would have said, “The firing came two month prior to Juneteenth…” or “Coming only a few weeks after Black History Month….” 

…Oregon Health Authority officials have declined to provide an explanation for the firing. In the press release announcing the change, Hathi was quoted as committed to the work Johnson left behind: “The Equity and Inclusion Division is vital to OHA and the communities we serve. It’s important for us to ensure that the Equity and Inclusion Division is not alone in the work to change our policies and programs, dismantle systemic racism and meet the needs of the communities most harmed by health inequities. A commitment to health equity lives in every corner of OHA, and the practice of equity is – and must be – everyone’s job.”

In other words: Throw out the window any hope that we’re moving away from the inherent racism of our organization. We plan to continue wasting the $26 million budget we’ve got for DEI instead of helping people regardless of identity.

Despite this, I take any movement away from DEI as a sign of hope. 

…Among her efforts was a push to give equity-focused groups more control over Medicaid funding, which sparked opposition from the coordinated care organizations that contract with the Oregon Health Plan.

Probably because that type of discrimination is unconstitutional (among other things). 

Supporters credit her with helping the agency more effectively communicate with marginalized groups during the pandemic, helping support a high vaccination rate.

There was huge criticism of comparatively low minority vaccination rates during the pandemic. I’m not saying that’s OHA’s fault, but it’s a little much to take credit for failure what was widely reported as failure.

Her influence, they say, was reflected in the agency’s unconventional efforts to do outreach and provide relief to eliminate inequities included grants for Black and indigenous strippers and sex workers as well as the “Snack Bloc” during the George Floyd protests downtown.

That’s a real achievement. I hope it’s on her resume. 

“I am really hopeful that this isn’t an indication that Oregon isn’t going to roll back,” Harrison added. “That would be incredibly devastating.”

On the other hand, I’m hopeful that it’s a sign that the insanity of DEI may be on the way out and that broader American society will once again judge people not on the color of their skin but the content of their character.