Driven by Compassion, Empathy, and Decency
Perhaps you read the Seattle Times article about income inequality on Sept. 25 (“Seattle’s median household income soars past $100,000—but wealth doesn’t reach all”). Median household income in the Seattle metropolitan area hit $102,500 last year. Median income for households headed by a white or Asian person was $112,000—2.4 times higher than those headed by a Black person ($43,500), with Latinx households averaging $78,600 and Native American or Alaskan Native households averaging $34,500.
Seattle’s racial income gap is clear. And I want to be clear about another thing—this is a race issue. And it’s why we say that Black lives matter and we focus heavily on Black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC). We place emphasis on those who most need support now.
If you have not read my article in the July issue of AgeWise (“Dismantling Racism Requires Action from Everyone”), please read it now. I’ve tried to highlight race and ethnicity. Understanding who needs Aging Network services most, who currently receives services, and who can afford to pay is crucial to accomplishing our mission—especially as our service population grows. We live in an increasingly diverse community and the income gap between rich and poor continues to widen.
The same questions—who needs service, who receives service, and who can pay—should stay front and center in our minds as we enter the voting period. General election ballots will be mailed to all registered Washington state voters in mid-October. At every level of government, I encourage you to ask which candidate has the most compassion and empathy for people in need. Public health, safety, and decency should drive our ballot decisions.
If you or someone you know needs voter registration information, visit King County Elections or vote411.org (nationwide). In Washington state, registration and voting by mail is easy. But please vote early to ensure your vote is counted.
In October, we also renew our commitment to advocacy in Olympia and Washington, DC. The Washington State Senior Lobby conference will take place online this year, due to COVID, on Thursday, October 22. Whether you are a seasoned advocate or new to the legislative process, the Senior Lobby conference is a great way to get up to speed on the State budget, advocacy issues, and key people. If you would like to participate, see registration information below this article.
At the 1977 dedication of a federal office building that bears his name, vice-president Hubert Humphrey said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
Our language has changed but the core message still resonates with me—who needs service, who receives service, and who can pay? We must ensure that the young, the old, and anyone with a special need receives the care and respect they need to live a good, decent life in the United States, regardless of the color of their skin, their language, and their ability to pay.
Contributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of AgeWise King County.