Hennepin County Board Resolves that Racism is a Public Health Crisis
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has declared racism a public health crisis.
Members of the board say due to racism, black, indigenous and people of color have statistically poorer educational outcomes, are less likely to access quality health care and have higher disease rates.
“It is time for Hennepin to go beyond treating the symptoms and to step back and examine why are such harmful results persisting for our black, indigenous people of color residents. How will we prevent these harmful results from continuing in the future” said Irene Fernando, a Hennepin County Commissioner.
Fernando and commissioner Angela Conley authored the declaration. Conley said on Tuesday that Minneapolis ranks as one of the worst places for people of color to live.
“Year after year after year, we find ourselves as a state and ultimately as the largest county in this state ranking among the worst places to live for Black and Indigenous people,” said Conley. “More and more across the country, professionals in the field of public health are saying that we need to name structural racism as the root cause of our work to eliminate disparities.”
The boards resolution was pushed forward by several recent events, including George Floyd’s death and the protests that followed.
The resolution directs Hennepin County to:
- Advocate for policies to improve health outcomes for Black, Indigenous and communities of color.
- Support initiatives to dismantle systemic racism, seek partnerships with local groups with track records of confronting racism, and promote community efforts to amplify issues of racism.
- Incorporate racism and the public health crisis into budget hearing materials.
- Communicate with the board in three months about its timeline to take significant steps, such as:
- Shifting its service-delivery approach with a lens on improving health outcomes for Black, Indigenous and people of color.
- Developing consistent methodology for data for continued public transparency.
- Assessing internal policies, procedures and goals to recommend steps to improve health outcomes for Black, Indigenous and people of color.
- Assessing how a public health lens may improve disparities in other domains, such as housing, income and education
- Developing a recommendation for standards for implementation of any future county anti-racist community initiatives or proposals.
- Assessing county activities in hiring, promoting staff, developing leaders, contracting for services, and giving grants with a racial equity lens.
- Click here to read the full resolution.