Connecticut's on the Cusp of Officially Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

Connecticut's on the Cusp of Officially Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis
(Joerg Carstensen/dpa via AP)

Is racism a public health crisis?

It is, according to a bill in Connecticut.

Here’s how SB00001 puts it:

It is hereby declared the policy of the state of Connecticut to recognize that racism is a public health crisis.

But good news — a group’s been formed to fight it:

There is established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine racial disparities in public health. The Commission shall study institutional racism in the state’s laws and regulations impacting public health.

They may have a challenging time pinpointing systemic racism in the law; for all politicians’ talk of structural racism, so far as I know, they have yet to finger any particular such thing within a structure.

Perhaps that would require actual effort, so they’d rather just assure us it’s there without bothering to fix it.

Maybe Connecticut will, as they say, do the work.

More from the bill:

The commission shall study (1) institutional racism in the state’s laws and regulations impacting public health, (2) racial disparities in the state’s criminal justice system and the impact of such disparities on the health and well-being of individuals and families, including, but not limited to, overall health outcomes and rates of depression, suicide, substance use disorder and chronic disease, (3) racial disparities in access to healthy living resources, including, but not limited to, fresh food, produce, physical activity, public safety, clean air and clean water, (4) racial disparities in access to health care, (5) racial disparities in health outcomes in hospitals and long-term care facilities, including, but not limited to, nursing homes, and (6) the impact of zoning restrictions on the creation of housing disparities and the impact of such disparities on public health. The commission shall develop legislative proposals to address racial disparities in public health.

As reported by the CT Mirror, Republican state Rep. Kimberly Fiorello isn’t fond of the proposal.

She seems a bit hung up on its premise:

“I’m very concerned about this bill that comes out straightforwardly saying that all of us — everyone here, our whole state — has to accept as fact that racism, which is to judge people by their skin color, by their ethnicity, that that is blatantly happening everywhere in public health in this state.”

Are most people raging racists? Kimberly leans toward No:

“You’re asking us to accept something that is not true. … I’m sorry to tell you, but you can write it in the skies and it still won’t be true. Because the people of Connecticut do not go around judging each other based on their skin. I don’t know one person that does that. This is very cynical, and this is not what I stand for in our state.”

But courtesy of Democrat Rep. Geraldo Reyes, Kimberly’s got another thing comin’:

“I have to tell you that as a person of color and a person who has actually, firsthand, received racism as a normal [thing], especially when I was growing up in a community that didn’t look like I am – we would be remiss to say that things in this state are not racist.”

He doesn’t want the state to be shipless:

“We would be missing the boat completely. Our family came here in the 1950s. And I listened to my grandmother’s story about the racist things she went through and what she tried to do to make sure that my mother and all of us didn’t have to feel the same wrath that she did.”

Geraldo may soon hear the call of “All Aboard” — the bill passed in the Senate and House.

It’s only waiting for Democrat Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature.

After that, we can await the racist findings.

All should be revealed, per the bill, by next January:

Not later than January 1, 2022, the task force shall submit a report 270 on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of 271 the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to public 272 health, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general 273 statutes. The task force shall terminate on the date that it submits such 274 report or January 1, 2022, whichever is later.

Clarity may be around the corner.

And then America — following Connecticut’s lead — can finally nip systemic racism in its bigoted bud.



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