NY Senator Parker drafts bill to declare racism ‘public health crisis’
‘Racism continues to cause a lack of resources and opportunities for people and communities,’ notes state Sen. Kevin Parker.
New York State Sen. Kevin Parker has drafted a bill to have the New York State Health Department declare racism a “public health crisis.”
“Racism continues to cause a lack of resources and opportunities for people and communities of color and it has oftentimes led to long term negative effects that have plagued families for generations,” Parker wrote in a statement. “The COVID-19 Pandemic has exposed these inequities even further observing that predominantly black communities are seeing three times the rate of infection — and six times the rate of COVID-related deaths.”
In his announcement of Senate Bill S8673A, Parker referenced the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. “Their deaths,” he wrote, “amplified the message of social justice groups like the ACLU and Black Lives Matter calling for an end to systemic racism.”
“Framing racism as a public health issue compels organizations and governmental agencies to address the crisis in the systemic ways that other threats to public health have been addressed,” Parker says.
A public health crisis would mean the state of New York’s health department could establish “a working group to look at solutions and start implementing them throughout state government.”
National Urban League President Marc Morial is also working with Parker to highlight the racial disparities in COVID-19 pandemic deaths. He has joined a task force that will fight for fair access to the pending vaccines.
“The most vulnerable,” Morial told PIX11, “those at greatest risk should be entitled to receive the vaccine. The earliest in the process. Now we know that that includes many people in the black community. Well, you have to meet people where they are.”
New York recently implemented a law that imposes a civil penalty for calling the police on Black people or “any other member of a protected class” when there is “no reason to believe a crime or offense, or imminent threat to person or property, is occurring.”
While racial disparities in law enforcement have garnered attention this year, Parker seeks to specifically address racism with the focus President-elect Joe Biden‘s new administration is setting up targeting America’s still-raging health crisis of 2020: the coronavirus pandemic.
Parker said “for decades, racial inequalities have caused significant mental, physical and financial hardships for people of color. These inequities have impacted how they live, the resources they have access to and, more importantly, their quality of healthcare.”