Hennepin County commissioners pass resolution declaring racism a public health crisis

Hennepin County commissioners pass resolution declaring racism a public health crisis Photo: KSTP.

Updated: June 30, 2020 03:58 PM
Created: June 30, 2020 03:51 PM

Tuesday, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.

"Due to racism, Black, Indigenous and people of color in Hennepin County statistically have poorer educational outcomes, earn less, and are less likely to own homes or have access to quality health care and jobs than White people," the county said in a statement. "These disparities have lifelong impacts, including higher disease rates, and, as we're seeing now, higher rates of COVID-19."

The resolution calls for the county to advocate for policies that, "improves outcomes for Black, Indigenous and communities of color."

Through the resolution, the county will also support initiatives that dismantle systemic racism.

In the future, the county will also have to incorporate racism and public health into budget hearing materials.

The resolution comes a month after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. The county added that since 2017, the board has reviewed data that shows disparities in areas of education, jobs, income, housing, justice, transportation and health for Black, Indigenous and people of color in Minneapolis.

"Ultimately this resolution is about the health and well-being of Hennepin County residents who have borne the brunt of racial discrimination and racial inequity through various different systems," said Commissioner Angela Conley, who introduced the resolution with Commissioner Irene Fernando.

"We must acknowledge the harmful effect of racism on health and wellness. Studies show that even accounting for income, housing, education, nutrition and everything we can identify … that, for example, Black women have a higher rate of maternal death than their White counterparts. This can't be explained away. It clearly shows that racism is corrosive to health."

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