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Five Connecticut Municipalities Consider Joining the Movement to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

JULY 2020 THE HAITIAN VOICE 5

Five Connecticut Municipalities Consider Joining the Movement to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

On July 6, New Haven and Middletown will consider resolutions to declare racism a public health crisis at meetings scheduled for 7 pm. The same night, at 7:30 Milford’s Board of Aldermen considered language about combating racism and several local leaders have urged local officials to add the statement that racism is a public health crisis. Tomorrow night, Manchester and Windham will consider resolutions as well.

To date, at least five Connecticut towns have passed resolutions declaring racism a public health crisis. The protests across all fifty states prompted by the death of George Floyd and the related history of police violence against people of color and the persistent racial health disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic have moved cities and counties across the U.S. to make similar declarations. To catalyze this movement in Connecticut, Health Equity Solutions and its partners are reaching out to leaders throughout the state to introduce similar resolutions in their communities. On July 6 and 7, New Haven, Middletown, Milford, Manchester, and Windham will consider joining Windsor, Hartford, Bloomfield, New Britain, and West Hartford in taking this step.

Tekisha Dwan Everette, Executive Director of Health Equity Solutions, noted: “Acknowledging a problem is the first step in addressing it. Publicly acknowledging that racism—through structural disadvantages and the “weathering” of daily experiences—is a public health crisis that results in far too much preventable suffering and death, is a starting point for action. This movement demonstrates the willingness of local officials to commit to intentionally addressing racism through policy.” Health Equity Solutions is a nonprofit organization with a statewide focus on promoting policies, programs, and practices that result in inequitable health care access, delivery, and outcomes for all people in Connecticut.

A local resolution demonstrates a commitment to advancing racial equity, including in health. It can catalyze and authorize data analysis, policy analysis to prevent unintentional injustices and implementation of policies and actions to dismantle and course-correct problematic systems.

Alycia Santilli, Director of the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) and New Haven resident, notes: “The public health community has increasingly recognized the impacts of

City of Bridgeport

racism on health. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we bring this message to the wider community – as together we witness the greater impact of COVID-19 in Black and Brown communities; as together we witness the murder of Black men and women at the hands of police. These threats to communities of color result in the worst health outcome of all – death – and demonstrate the profound impacts of structural racism. We must raise our voices.”

Milford resident Lillian A. Holmes adds: “Racism has and continues to hurt people psycho-physiologically and impede their ability to live a healthy, prosperous life. While Milford declaring racism as a public health crisis will not single-handedly dismantle racist institutions and support community healing on its own, it is a first step in the overall process. Viewing racism in this way will afford Milford’s city and health officials, and other stakeholders, a clear way to analyze data and discuss how to dismantle or change problematic systems in a way that will elicit meaningful change for our entire community.”

Revered Robyn Anderson who leads the Middletown-based Ministerial Health Fellowship and participates in the town’s People of Color Health Initiative, adds: “It is my hope and prayer that we will declare racism as a public health issue as we work together to achieve health equity and justice for all.”

In Manchester, Councilor Pamela Floyd-Cranford, said: “Manchester is the epitome that racism exists. With the acknowledgment that racism is a public health crisis, I’m hopeful that it will make health care more affordable for people of color. Also, oftentimes we don’t get the same level of care. Health care providers are relatively dismissive of complaints of pain and illness by people of color, especially if they don’t have the money to pay for services. This leads to worse health and death. I’m hoping the resolutions in Manchester and throughout the state will address this.”

Health Equity Solutions also recently released a petition aiming to center the public dialogue about injustice on policy solutions. The petition will demonstrate widespread support for deliberate strategies to address inequities, starting with policymakers publicly declaring racism to be a public health crisis. The petition can be found on http://hesct.org.

Launches COVID-19 Pilot Program

The City of Bridgeport announces a pilot program designed to further expand COVID-19 testing opportunities for community members.

In collaboration with the State of Connecticut, Optimus Health Care, and Southwest Community Health Center, COVID-19 testing will be offered at a total of six places of worship and will be supported by a grant of $500 awarded to each faith-based location provided by 4-CT, a philanthropic organization which funds high-impact projects such as COVID-19 testing.

Health Director Lisa Morrissey stated, “The unveiling of this pilot program, designed to expand testing capacity in our community, is very exciting because it will allow people to get back to some of the things they’ve missed over the last several months such as attending services at their congregations.”

Mayor Ganim declared, “We want to keep our community healthy by providing as many testing opportunities as possible which now includes places of worship. We’ve had the largest decline for active coronavirus cases in the State and it’s thanks to both State and local leadership as well as faith leaders who get it—testing is critical.”

Accidents Divorces Immigration

PHILIP BERNS

(203)324-2133

440 Bedford Street, Stamford, CT

(continued on page 7)

Places of worship participating in the pilot program include: Congregation B’nai Israel – 2710 Park Avenue

Saint Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church – 391 Ogden Street East End Baptist Tabernacle Church – 548 Central Avenue

United Congregational Church – 2200 North Avenue Bridgeport Islamic Community Center – 703 State Street

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