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3 States & Over 20 Cities Have Declared Racism a ‘Public Health Crisis.’ Here’s What That Means

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Black Lives Mater, racism, public health emergency, racial justice

More than 20 cities and counties and at least three states — Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin — have declared racism a public health crisis, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a public policy research group. Even Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown introduced a national resolution to do the same on June 3.

But while the declarations are meant to ignite changes on all levels of government to address threats to the Black community, they rarely ever entail specific policy or funding changes. Does that mean they’re mostly symbolic? Not entirely.

The declarations ideally serve as a starting point so that a city, county, or state can start calling on its different sectors — social services,  transportation, healthcare, education, housing, criminal justice, budgets and taxes to name a few — to recognize racial inequalities and consider the best ways to resolve them.

As Pew points out, “Higher rates of poverty, unemployment, poor housing and toxic environmental exposure, as well as less access to quality medical care also contribute to poor overall health in Black communities.” The stress of everyday racism also has negative effects on Black health, contributing to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes which ultimately shorten their lifespans.

By declaring racism as a public health emergency, states and local governments can encourage other community organizations — such as school boards, hospitals, businesses, and others — to make pledges to research and develop policies for improving the lives of black and brown residents

In order to be truly effective though, the resolutions require city and state administrations to appoint officials who will apply pressure, follow-up, and measure concrete changes rather than just issue supportive statements. Even better, future resolutions should create committees that will develop policy and funding changes to substantively address the issue.

Among the cities that have made such declarations are Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City, Missouri; Madison, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and at least eight counties across the United States.

 

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LGBT Activists, Allies Nationwide Mark Pulse Massacre Anniversary With Protests for Stronger Gun Laws

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Two years ago today a terrorist walked into Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and shot 49 people to death. The club, a gay bar, was hosting Latin night, so most of the dead were LGBT and most were people of color.

Today, across the nation LGBT activists and allies are marking what was at the time the deadliest terror attack since 9/11, the deadliest anti-LGBT hate crime and deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with protests demanding stronger gun laws.

They’re calling it National Die-In Day, and they’re being bolstered by the Parkland student survivors.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), running for re-election, appears to be among the lawmakers most-targeted:

Some are outside the Capitol, and still others are protesting in cities across the country.

“The National Die-In Day was organized by three students, Amanda Fugleberg, 18, and  Frank Kravchuk, 21, both of Orlando, and Nurah Abdulhaqq, 14, of Douglasville, Georgia,” Beatrix Lockwood writes at The Trace.

“The three met in a text-messaging group in the days following the Parkland shooting, where they began talking about ways to build on the activism started by survivors,” Lockwood’s report continues. “But it wasn’t until they were introduced to each other on Twitter by one of those survivors, David Hogg, that the idea for a nationwide die-in solidified. Hogg quickly signed up as an advisor to the demonstration, helping the organizers access resources and promoting it on social media.”

Separately, other protests by LGBT activists and allies demanding action on gun control are taking place.

“‘Six hundred and twelve days,’ said Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse shooting and organizer of the Pulse Rally to Honor Them with Action at Orlando City Hall, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“That’s how long it took for Pulse headlines to become Parkland headlines. … That’s how long it took for 49 lives lost to become 17 more. And in those 612 days, nothing changed.”

“[Gov.] Rick Scott was so busy trying to appease his gun lobby donors, he wouldn’t even wear a damn ribbon,” Wolf said, joining state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, in criticizing Scott for never having worn a rainbow Pulse ribbon in two years — while often wearing a red Marjory Stoneman Douglas ribbon.

Many are using the hashtags , and .

 

 

 

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