This past summer, we saw uprisings across the state calling for long-overdue racial justice. At that time, Health Equity Solutions began a petition demanding an intentional anti-racist focus in policymaking in the state of Connecticut. With signatures from residents from over 130 towns, we knew there was a passion to do more, and we knew that we were not alone. HES began engaging with local residents to declare racism a public health crisis in local municipalities. With the help of local residents and grassroots organizations, so far 21 towns and cities and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation have made the declaration. Our 21 municipalities are part of over 180 entities across the country who have taken this first step and we can and should become the 6th State to lead the nation in the march towards health equity for all.
Our commitment to the vision that every Connecticut resident be able to attain their optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status is demonstrated in our efforts to promote policies, programs, and practices that result in health equity, especially for racially and ethnically minoritized individuals in our state.
Research, common experience, and knowledge tell us that one of the greatest barriers to achieving this vision is the historical and contemporary relationship between racism and health. Our collective or individual refusal to acknowledge this as a primary cause of health inequities hinders our progress toward eradicating health inequity and health disparities. Denying the existence of racism in our culture, institutions, and policies will not make it go away. As we all know, acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it.
But a declaration is just the first step. It is an acknowledgment but there is more work to be done. Being intentional about addressing the public health crisis that racism is means working diligently across every branch of government, every agency, and within the CT General Assembly to uproot, uncover, and dismantle racism wherever it shows up – in our policies and in ourselves.
Health Equity Solutions believes in our ability to change our state and the nation for the better. HES strongly supports H.B. No. 6662, An Act Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis and Establishing the Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health because it declares racism a public health crisis and sets a path for making the legislative, institutional, and policy changes necessary to advance health equity with concrete metrics for change. We stand with all those in our state who are willing and ready to make the change needed to advance health equity and to stand against racism.