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Rep. Russo signs onto resolution to declare racism a public health crisis

Ohio House and Senate Democrats introduce resolution in light of nationwide protests, Ohio Statehouse demonstrations
May 29, 2020
C. Allison Russo News

COLUMBUS— Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today signed onto a House resolution that would designate racism as a public health crisis, echoing similar calls in Cleveland and Franklin County. The resolution, if passed, would be the first of its kind passed at the state level.

“Institutional racism has and continues to inflict deep trauma on our state and nation,” said Rep. Russo.  “Ohioans of color are subjected to unequal education, unsafe work conditions, lower wages, inadequate health care services, subpar housing, and an unjust criminal justice system, amongst other inequities.  By declaring racism a public health crisis, we acknowledge its significant impact on the health and well-being of our communities and can take strong actions to right this wrong.”

The resolution comes on the heels of Thursday night’s protests in Columbus and in advance of more protests planned around the state this weekend following the death of George Floyd. Protests over his death have erupted throughout the country.

The resolution calls for the following actions:

  1. Establishing a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity;
  2. Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire community;
  3. Incorporating educational efforts to address and dismantle racism, and expand understanding of racism and how racism affects individual and population health;
  4. Promoting community engagement, actively engaging citizens on issues of racism, and providing tools to engage actively and authentically with communities of color;
  5. Committing to review all portions of codified ordinances with a racial equity lens;
  6. 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;
  7. Promoting racially equitable economic and workforce development practices;
  8. 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 traumaTraining of all elected officials, staff, funders and grantees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them;
  9. Partnering and building alliances with local organizations that have a legacy and track record of confronting racism;
  10. 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;
  11. Securing adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities.