The Potluck

Minnesota House committee considers declaring racism a public health crisis

By: - July 14, 2020 11:58 am

If the worst happens, the writer says, we may all need to take to the streets. And all must be welcome. Photo by Calvin Mattson/Minnesota Reformer.

The growing movement by local government officials to declare racism a public health crisis has reached the Minnesota House. 

The House Rules and Legislative Committee on Tuesday is set to debate a resolution from state Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, explicitly linking racism to the vast racial disparities long plaguing Minnesota. 

“Racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire state,” the resolution reads. “Systemic racism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.” 

Richardson, one of the few Black lawmakers in the Legislature, has been a leading voice in recent weeks, along with other members of the bicameral People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, as they’ve collectively pushed for systemic changes to root out racism. 

If approved, the Minnesota House would be joining Hennepin County leaders who recently passed a similar resolution.

The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has touched off heated debate in many corners of government, business and society about the racial inequities.

According to the resolution, the Minnesota House would take a number of actions to focus legislative efforts on addressing racial disparities in education, jobs, health and other quality-of-life measures. 

It would also call for the convening of a House select committee to “ensure House legislative efforts are analyzed through an intersectional race equity lens,” the Richardson resolution reads. 

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez was a senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.