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Take Action: Declare Racism As A Public Health Crisis in VA

Posted:  -  By: Chloe Edwards

Update: Passed by the House and now headed to the Senate next.

Delegate Lashrecse Aird has introduced House Joint Resolution No. 537, a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis in Virginia. The American Public Health Association defines racism as a social system with multiple complex dimensions, including internalized or interpersonal individual racism and institutional or structural systemic racism, which unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, and unfairly advantages other individuals and communities. Ultimately, it decreases the strength of the entire society through the waste of human resources, because it does not address the root cause of the disparities that exist but rather maintains them. In Virginia, racial health inequities were estimated to cost $917 million over a recent three-year period in 2012. . Virginia is poised to reconcile history and the impact of it by declaring racism as a public health crisis. 

Currently, over 150 local governments across the country have made declarations to address racism. However, only five states have declared racism a public health crisis and none are located in the South. In contrast to Virginia’s role as the state that housed the capital of the Confederacy, the commonwealth now has the opportunity to lead the country into a new era in which everyone is valued equally and has equitable opportunity to live a long, healthy life. Virginia must declare racism as a public health crisis. 

We have created several opportunities for you to advocate on behalf of House Joint Resolution No. 537. We encourage you to send a message to your public official and sign-on as an organization .

Deadline: February 10, 2021

Send a Message to Your Public Official: 

Use Our Talking Points (if you’d like to personalize it): Choose One

Key Message: 

  1. According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, roughly eight in ten people who identify as Black with some college experience reported that they have experienced some form of racial discrimination from time to time with 17 percent reporting that this happens to them regularly.
  2. In the 1840s, Dr. J. Marion Sims spent years conducting experiments on enslaved women. Simms is now  acknowledged to be the founder of modern surgical gynecology. Today, in modern medicine, explicitly bias beliefs that Black people have thicker skin and experience less pain continue to impact the experiences of Black patients in an array of forms. In 2018, Black women died 2 and a half times more often than white women of maternal causes. 
  3. According to the KIDS COUNT Data Center’s indicators, which include socioeconomic hardship, family violence, neighborhood violence and racist bias, 19 percent of Virginia’s children experience two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). However, in 2017 to 2018, 37 percent of Black children experienced two or more ACEs, which is almost double the rate of trauma that all children experienced. ACEs can contribute to toxic stress in the brain, which is known as trauma.  According to the CDC-Kaiser Permanent  Adverse  Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, trauma contributes to long-term negative social and health outcomes.
  4. Over 150 local governments across the country have made declarations to address racism. However, only five states have declared racism a public health crisis and none are located in the South. In contrast to Virginia’s role as the state that housed the capital of the Confederacy, the commonwealth now has the opportunity to lead the country into a new era in which everyone is valued equally and has equitable opportunity to live a long, healthy life. Virginia must declare racism as a public health crisis.
  5. Connect to the Call to ASK: Delegate Aird introduced a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis. It includes numerous steps that Virginia can take to address systemic racism and its impact on public health, including the examination of racial inequity in Virginia law, implicit bias training for public employees and officials, a glossary of terms specific to racism and health equity and engagement with communities most impacted. Support House Joint Resolution No. 537.

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