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RELEASE: Minnesota House declares racism a statewide public health crisis

Monday, July 20, 2020

Saint Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota House of Representatives today voted to declare racism a public health crisis.

According to the official resolution voted upon today, the declaration applies to the entire state and affirms that the Minnesota House will be an active participant in the dismantling of racism. It creates a House Select Committee on Minnesota’s response tasked with analyzing legislative work through an intersectional race equity lens. 

“This is about advancing and promoting equitable opportunity across all of our systems, in the areas of health, education, housing, public safety, and economic and workforce development,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), chief author of the resolution. “The COVID-19 pandemic and senseless murder of George Floyd have shined a light on the historical and contemporary injustices that are still embedded in our society.”

The resolution states that racism is embedded in the foundation of America, beginning with chattel slavery? in 1619, and that much of the Black experience in America has been endured under slavery and? Jim Crow, which created preferential opportunities for white people while subjecting people of? color to hardships and disadvantages in every area of life.

“Communities of color continue to face unacceptable disparities in our state, and many of these are a direct result of systemic racism that has existed for centuries,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the House People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus. “Today’s action in the Minnesota House recognizes this, and we’re committed to building an inclusive state where everyone has the opportunity to be safe, healthy, and successful.”

Minnesota joins more than 20 cities and counties and at least three states, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, to declare racism a public health crisis. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Emergency Physicians have also declared institutional racism an urgent public health issue in statements and vowed to eradicate racism and discrimination in health care.

“The murder of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer set in motion a global movement that cannot be ignored and cannot be brought down by politics as usual,” said Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Minneapolis). “The resolution we are voting on is the first of many steps we will take together in the coming days, months, and years to ensure people who look like me, our children, and future generations have equitable access to opportunity and prosperity.”

"Racism is a public health crisis. The Minnesota House of Representatives is taking action to formally recognize this reality — which must be acknowledged in order for us to make progress," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. "Minnesota has disturbing inequities in education, healthcare, employment, and housing. The House will undertake efforts to dismantle the structural racism inherent in our own institution as we continue our work to address these inexcusable inequities throughout Minnesota."

“As an institution, the Minnesota House of Representatives needs to play an active role in dismantling systems that have denied dignity, respect, and compassion to so many for so long,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. "While we work for racial justice and police accountability, it's critical that we also examine ourselves and our policies and practices. Our nation is facing a historic moment, and the Minnesota House plans to be on the side of justice and human rights.”

At this time, the Minnesota Senate has not announced plans to advance a similar resolution.