COLUMBUS, Ohio — A resolution that would declare racism as a public health crisis has been introduced to the Ohio House and Senate to address the issue and develop plans to combat it. If passed, it would be the first of its kind to move forward at the state level, according to the Ohio House of Representatives.
State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), who signed onto the resolution, said that it is important in providing racial equity to all Ohioans.
“Racism is a public health crisis,” Brent said. “Ohio must address racism by developing policy to address racial equity to protect all Ohioans not just certain people. There are racial disparities in healthcare, housing, workforce development and every fabric of our system. All Ohioans must feel protected. That is why we must continue to stand together, let our voices be heard, and fight just as our ancestors did. Revolutions are not a one-time event.”
The resolution calls for the following actions in order to counter racism across Ohio:
- Establishing a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity;
- Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire community;
- Incorporating educational efforts to address and dismantle racism, and expand understanding of racism and how racism affects individual and population health;
- Promoting community engagement, actively engaging citizens on issues of racism, and providing tools to engage actively and authentically with communities of color;
- Committing to review all portions of codified ordinances with a racial equity lens;
- Committing to conduct all human resources, vendor selection and grant management activities with a racial equity lens including reviewing all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotions, leadership appointments and funding;
- Promoting racially equitable economic and workforce development practices;
- Promoting and encouraging all policies that prioritize the health of people of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systematic racism and mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experience and trauma Training of all elected officials, staff, funders and grantees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them;
- Partnering and building alliances with local organizations that have a legacy and track record of confronting racism;
- Encouraging community partners and stakeholders in the education, employment, housing, and criminal justice and safety arenas to recognize racism as a public health crisis and to activate the above items;
- Securing adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities.
The city of Cleveland also discussed a proposed resolution to declare racism a public health crisis that was introduced earlier this year.
“The pandemic has laid bare even more plainly that African Americans and other minority groups who have less access to high quality medical care, cleaner environments and healthy fresh food are dying at greater rates than others, despite not being infected at a higher rate,” said Councilman Blaine Griffin, who chairs the Health and Humans Services committee and who has sponsored the resolution.