By D’Mitra Smith
The recent Press Democrat article on the departure of Sonoma County Health Services Director Barbie Robinson has NO mention of the fact that Ms. Robinson’s groundbreaking and innovative ACCESS Initiative program of comprehensive, wraparound services for the most vulnerable Sonoma County county residents won TWO AWARDS in 2019: The IBM Advantage Award and the Financial Times Intelligent Business Award, beating out Europe.
This is a first for Sonoma County and it’s all because of the work of an accomplished, professional Black Woman who had to deal with roadblocks, misogynoir, open threats, racial discrimination, racist attacks, and attempted ERASURE of her work by the Press Democrat and the elected officials who didn’t breathe a word of her accomplishments. I have personally gotten folks housed through Ms. Robinson’s ACCESS Initiative. Even the liberal nonprofits and activists have not had her back, nor has the NAACP. Her ACCESS Initiative is being replicated ACROSS THE COUNTRY. But we don’t get to hear that.
Shame on the Press Democrat and Sonoma County officials for not uplifting and highlighting the groundbreaking and award-winning work of a Black woman. Her departure is a loss for this county. The way she has been treated and disrespected is yet another example of how Sonoma County likes to say the word “Equity” but still has no idea what it is.
Ms. Robinson is going to continue to do amazing work for Harris County, Texas, and I support her decision to level up and take her Black Excellence to a new opportunity. Sonoma County, this is your loss. Ms. Barbie, thank you for your groundbreaking work.
D’Mitra Smith is the former chair of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights.