Today, State Rep. Willis Blackshear (D-Dayton) signed on as a co-sponsor to House Democratic priority legislation to declare racism a public health crisis. Previously introduced in the 133rd General Assembly as HCR 31, the resolution provides meaningful action steps to address racial health disparities and begin to dismantle systemic racism in Ohio.
“In the aftermath of all of the demonstrations that occurred worldwide last summer, it is important to continue to acknowledge that racism is a crisis that can and should be addressed for the benefit of black and brown communities and for the benefit of all Americans,” said Rep. Blackshear.
The resolution comes as Black Ohioans experience lower vaccination rates than white Ohioans, and COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities. Black and brown Ohioans also continue to face differences in health outcomes such as higher infant and maternal mortality rates, higher incidences of childhood trauma, higher youth incarceration rates, higher poverty rates, and a life expectancy almost four years below white Ohioans.
The resolution calls for the following actions:
· 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 resolution now awaits referral to a House committee.