The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus announced Friday that it plans to introduce legislation to declare racism a “public health crisis.”
“Our citizens of color have been subjected to the effects of racism since the founding of the State of Ohio in 1803. Since that time, Ohioans of color have endured unequal education, unsafe work conditions, inadequate health care services, subpar housing and an unjust criminal justice system, based on policies that were rooted in a belief that people of color are not worthy of the American Dream,” said a statement from the caucus sent to every member of the Ohio General Assembly.
“By declaring racism a public health crisis, we acknowledge that racism impacts all members of our society and deserves action from all levels of government,” the statement continued.
The resolution was announced as riots erupted across the country in response to the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died on Memorial Day at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. The riots made their way to Columbus over the weekend, where demonstrators vandalized the Ohio Statehouse and started fires on its front lawn.
According to a press release, the legislation will be formally introduced Tuesday and will assert “that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire community.”
Additionally, the bill would provide for a review of “all portions of codified ordinances with a racial equity lens” and promote local, state, and federal efforts to “dismantle systemic racism.” Another provision in the bill calls for educating all elected officials and their staffers on “trauma training” and “workplace bias.”
“Black America woke this morning to a nightmare that seems to never end and a continued feeling of hopelessness that nothing will ever be better,” Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) said. “What we are witnessing around the country is a community simply begging to be seen and heard. Racism is real and it is the biggest public health threat citizens of color face.”
“The real question is where does Governor DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Husted, President Obhof, Speaker Householder, Members of the Ohio General Assembly and other white people in positions of power stand?” Howse continued. “When will they be forced to atone for the sins of this country and the State of Ohio against black and brown people?”
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