Is NYC right to declare ‘racism as a public health crisis?’


Fact Box

  • On Monday, October 18, 2021, New York City’s Board of Health issued a resolution naming “racism as a public health crisis.” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic magnified inequities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color in our City and across our nation.”
  • The resolution plans to research its impact on racism in health programs, create a Data for Equity group, recommend solutions to strengthen efforts to combat racism, and partner with relevant organizations working towards the same goal. 
  • Milwaukee County, Wisconsin was the first to pass a resolution calling racism a public health issue in May of 2019. As of August 2021, “209 declarations of racism as a public health crisis have passed in 37 states.”
  • New York City has a population of 8.2 million people with 42.73% White, 24.31% Black or African American, and 14.09% Asian.

JessiRae (Yes)

In the 'Resolution of the NYC Board of Health Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis,' New York City announced that institutional racism against African Americans, Indigenous people, BIPOC, Latinos, and Asians as the leading reason those living in poverty are the most adversely impacted by COVID-19, denial of healthcare, and racial inequities. The document states that injustices of law enforcement, medical care, incarceration, and discriminatory housing are the prevailing factors enabling institutionalized racism.  

In the landscape of COVID-19, where people of color are disproportionately accounting for COVID-19 related deaths, now more than ever is the time to act against racism. Black Americans die at 2.4 times more than their White peers from COVID. BIPOC populations disproportionately account for customer service positions and fast-food restaurants, which are notorious breeding grounds for contracting COVID-19. Conversely, poverty-stricken communities, made up largely of minority groups, are not yet vaccinated and most do not belong to any healthcare plan.

The NYC Board of Health's response is informed by sobering COVID-19 statistics within BIPOC communities. Racism disavows people of color from getting jobs, owning homes, receiving equal treatment in hospitals and in the medical care industry, and having quality education.

NYC's health crisis declaration is the continuation of the fight for equal rights. Unchecked racism continues to stain the lives of millions of Americans every day. The American public is not so far removed from generations of slavery. The fight against racism is necessary to prevent further evils, demanding commitment to the ever-evolving fight for equal rights.

Curtice (No)

New York City has declared racism to be a public health crisis, citing the COVID pandemic has 'magnified inequities.' Racism is not a public health crisis. Racism first starts in the heart and the mind; it's made up of bad things people think about another person based on skin color. It can and has historically manifested through individuals' actions. If those actions, growing out of racist thoughts, violate the law, they are then addressed by law enforcement and the justice system. 

To make this broad claim, however, one must be able to define the term: What is racism? And who or what policy is specifically responsible? Certain groups, including African-Americans, may be more adversely affected by a pandemic or a virus or any number of ailments than others, but that in and of itself does not amount to “racism.” COVID has more severely affected the elderly than any other age group. Does that mean ageism is a public health crisis? Labeling racism as a public health crisis is merely political grandstanding by the city to pander to its Leftist constituents. It does nothing to address or root out any racist policies or people. 

Pointing out disparities among persons of a minority group is not racism, yet many on the Left consider it as such. When then-President Trump said COVID-19 could have credibly started in the Wuhan lab and instituted travel restrictions against China, he was called a xenophobe. Yet, now the lab leak is considered a plausible theory.

Furthermore, Critical Race Theory, which is now taught in many public schools, reinstitutes racist teachings (not 'anti-racism') into the classroom. If NYC is on the lookout for racism, they need look no further than their campuses.

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