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Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Rasicm is a Public Health Crisis

This week, I co-sponsored a resolution recognizing racism as a public health crisis in the state of Ohio. If the resolution passes, Ohio will be the first state in the union to recognize racism – not race – as a public health crisis. Now, as demonstrations across the country illuminate the stark, deeply-rooted racial injustices across the country, we must recognize racism for the pervasive force it is.

Not only has racism resulted in a ten-to-one racial wealth gap between white families and black families in this country, not only has racism disproportionately subject black Ohioans to the carceral system, not only has racism led black Ohioans to be victims in an inordinate number of cases of police brutality, but racism is literally taking a toll on the ordinary, day-to-day health of black Ohioans. 

As Franklin County Public Health stated: “Racism and segregation in Ohio and Franklin County have exacerbated a health divide resulting in Black Ohioans having lower life expectancies than White Ohioans; being far more likely than other races to die prematurely (before the age of 75); and to die of heart disease or stroke, according to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. Black Ohioans also have a nearly three times higher rate of infant mortality, lower birth weights, are more likely to be overweight or obese, have adult onset diabetes, and have long-term complications from diabetes.

Racism, not race, causes disproportionately high rates of homelessness, incarceration, poor education, and economic hardship for African Americans. An emerging body of research demonstrates that racism itself is a social determinant of health.”

For all these reasons, it’s time for us to say it officially and with the force of law: Racism Is a Public Health Crisis.

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