Ohio trying to be first state to declare racism a public health crisis

New resolution has specific goals after protests and outrage rip through the state.

Ohio trying to be first state to declare racism a public health crisis
City of Cleveland institutes curfew ‘due to violence and unrest’ from George Floyd protests (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Several Ohio House Democrats have signed onto a proposed resolution to declare racism a public health crisis for the entire state.

If passed, Ohio would be the first state in the country with a resolution designating racism as a crisis.

“Racism is a public health crisis,” according to a statement from Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland). “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 has 11 specific items to approach address the issue:

  • 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.

On Monday afternoon, Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) is hosting a media call to discuss the weekend’s protests throughout the state and to call for immediate and sweeping legislative reform to address racism.

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