If you haven’t heard, there’s a health crisis in New York.
The malady has maimed the city.
I’m referring, of course, to the belief that certain shades of skin are superior.
Thankfully, the evident body governing such a thing — the Board of Health — has come to the rescue.
And it’s no old-school statement: The declaration is distinctly antiracist.
The proclamation points out “the mission of the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Health Department) is to protect and promote the health of all New Yorkers.”
As for structural racism — that would be, specific mechanisms intentionally wedged into systems to forcibly harm people due to their race — is there such a thing in America?
There certainly once was. If such a thing still exists, it must be excised.
But so far as I’ve noticed, no one cares to point to offending innards so they may be uninstalled.
Rather, we’re perpetually provided a preponderance of vague confirmation and condemnation.
Apropos of that, New York’s determined we’re still structurally stricken.
[T]here is a long history of structural racism impacting services and care across all institutions within our society…
The racist crisis, to be clear, does concern the coronavirus:
[B]lack, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) New Yorkers have suffered from disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and death, including a disproportionate drop in life expectancy for Black and Latino New Yorkers, and Black and Latino New Yorkers have inequitably low rates of COVID-19 vaccination…
But it isn’t limited to the pandemic:
[T]he NYC Health Department has extensively documented racial inequities in rates of HIV, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, infant mortality, mental health conditions, chronic disease prevalence and mortality, gun violence and other forms of physical violence, premature mortality, among others that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic…
Furthermore, there’s a growing “involvement with law enforcement” — entanglements that are “associated with poorer health outcomes, including injuries and fatalities.”
[S]tructural racism systematically excludes, marginalizes, and harms BIPOC across NYC through discriminatory housing, employment, education, healthcare, criminal legal, and other systems, all of which result in avoidable and unjust health outcomes (health inequities)…
Now let’s get to the antiracism part:
[The Board requests] the NYC Health Department establish a Data for Equity internal working group to ensure the Health Department apply an intersectional, anti-racism equity lens to public health data and provide annual guidance to other NYC Mayoral agencies on best practices to collect and make available to the Health Department relevant data to track and improve health equity…
The Board calls on the NYC Health Department to “develop priorities and next steps for a racially just recovery from COVID-19 and other actions – including resource allocation — to address this public health crisis in the short and long-term.”
The Department should also “perform an anti-racism review of the NYC Health Code to identify any existing provisions that support systemic and structural racism and bias and recommend new provisions to dismantle systemic and structural racism and bias.”
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is implored to report to the Board of Health twice a year, relaying its progress toward defeating structural racism with antiracism.
In case you don’t recall, “antiracism” considers colorblindness a microaggression (per CNN).
And here’s a definition courtesy of UCLA Law Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw:
“The active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance. This, of course, also involves a critical understanding of the history of whiteness in America.”
Will the Health Department solve America’s sickening racism?
Either way, it looks to me we’re a society sogging in the milk of meaningless moralizing.
The significance of our words and ideas — once clearly understood — has substantially diminished.
Why is an East Coast health department addressing social ills, or purporting to?
Whatever the answer, it isn’t the first.
The CDC recently declared structural racism a public health threat.
As reported by RedState’s Bonchie, the agency did the same regarding gun violence.
NEW – CDC implements study on "gun violence" after labeling it a "public health threat," aiming to "craft swift interventions, as they have done to contain the coronavirus pandemic and other national health emergencies." (NPR)
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 29, 2021
The CDC will doubtlessly be telling us how to spend Christmas.
Meanwhile, “violence” now applies to syllables — sounds or visuals representing concepts.
Does anything mean anything anymore?
Our words are becoming a mushy mess.
So are our agencies and their announcements.
Back to New York, the Department wants the Board to confess its sins:
[The Department of Health] requests that the NYC Health Department research, clarify, and acknowledge examples of its historic role in divesting and underinvesting in critical community-led health programs, and participate in a truth and reconciliation process with communities harmed by these actions…
The city’s resolve notwithstanding, racism is going to be even harder to hamper than you might expect.
According to the Board, it doesn’t exist:
Race is a social and political construct…with no biological or genetic basis.
Well, good luck to them anyway.
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