The legislature of Connecticut has recently passed a new bill that issues a declaration that racism is a public health crisis. As of now, the bill sits on the desk of Ned Lamont, Democratic Governor of Connecticut, where it only needs to be signed to be pushed forth into law.
The bill passed quite quickly through the state Senate and then continued its dash through the house where it passed with a 114-33 vote. The text of the bill, which centrally focuses on health issues, states, “It is hereby declared the policy of the state of Connecticut to recognize that racism is a public health crisis. There is established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine racial disparities in public health. The Commission shall study institutional racism in the state’s laws an regulations impacting public health.”
Kimberly Fiorello, a GOP representative, heavily criticized the bill, stating:
I’m very concerned about this bill that comes out straightforwardly saying that all of us – everyone here, our whole state – has to accept as fact that racism, which is to judge people by their skin color, by their ethnicity, that that is blatantly happening everywhere in public health in this state. You’re asking us to accept something that is not true. … I’m sorry to tell you, but you can write it in the skies and it still won’t be true. Because the people of Connecticut do not go around judging each other based on their skin. I don’t know one person that does that. This is very cynical, and this is not what I stand for in our state.
“Under the bill, a commission on racial equity in public health would be formed to examine the impact of racism ‘on vulnerable populations within diverse groups … including on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability, including, but not limited to, Black American descendants of slavery,’” stated The CT Mirror. “The panel would be required to submit a report to the state’s Office of Policy and Management and to the Public Health and Appropriations committees by Jan. 1, 2022 and every six months thereafter outlining recommendations and documenting progress.”
Also chiming in on the matter, Democratic Rep. Brandon McGee stated, “Racism is deeply embedded throughout our systems, policies and culture. While the national and international protests in response to the murders of – just to name two of many – George Floyd and Breonna Taylor initially spurred declarations throughout this country and even here in the state of Connecticut, racism has been a public health crisis since the founding of this country; not just last week, and not just throughout the summer of 2020.”
Seeming to echo his fellow Democratic Rep., Anthony Nolan stated, “Racism is difficult to tackle, because it essentially is known to require the redistribution of power, wealth and resources. So when talking about something as such, there will be a feeling of strong opposition. And there will be a feeling of fear, because we are equalizing the world for those who are not given equality. That doesn’t mean you’re losing out on anything. It just means you’re allowing those who have been held back, stopped and forgotten to get … what many others have.”