Senate District 21
Sandra R. Williams
Williams and Craig Reintroduce Resolution to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis
February 23, 2021
Today, state Senators Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland)  and Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 to declare racism a public health crisis. Twenty-five cities, counties and boards of health across Ohio alone have passed similar declarations. 

“While Ohioans may not be currently engaging in protesting at the levels we saw last summer, we know that racism didn’t just go away,” Craig said. “Black Ohioans continue to be arrested and incarcerated at alarming rates, experience wage and workforce disparities as well as maternal and infant mortality and get diagnosed with long-term health conditions like diabetes at higher rates than white Ohioans. Until we address the systemic racism embedded in these and other issues, we cannot ensure that Ohio is a safe and prosperous state for all.”

The resolution is a reintroduction of Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 from the 133rd General Assembly. It was inspired by the resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests across the state and country in response to the death of George Floyd, as well as the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on Black Ohioans.  According to the CDC, the average life expectancy for white Americans decreased by one year from 78.8 to 77.8 years as a result of the pandemic while African Americans’ life expectancy dropped by 2.7 years and Hispanic Americans’ dropped by 1.9 years.

“During the previous General Assembly, hundreds of Ohioans came to testify in support of our resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis. Their testimony was touching and truthful as they shared experiences of racism, hate, and ignorance,” said Williams. “We owe it to them and the countless others who have experienced racism to pass this resolution. It shouldn’t be controversial. We need to declare racism as a public health crisis to assure every Ohioan that the legislature is working to make Ohio a fairer, more equitable state.”

The resolution calls for the following actions:
•    Establishing a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity
•    Declaring 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 goals.
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