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City Council Committee Takes Up Racism As A Public Health Crisis


Systemic racism would be recognized as a public health crisis under a resolution a Baltimore City Council committee took up Friday.

The resolution was introduced last May by City Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. and made its way through city departments, before the council’s Equity and Structure Committee’s hearing Friday.

The resolution says housing segregation and redlining continues to play a role in health inequities. It also notes the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black and Brown people.

City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa was one of several city officials who testified in support of the resolution.

“We know that beyond healthcare, and in many cases, even beyond the scope of traditional public health activities, there is a need to address the broader structural racism that has plagued our country in our city for centuries if we want to have any impact on health outcomes for minority communities,” Dzirasa said.

But Kisha Webster, founder of the Greenmount West Community Center Foundation, said the resolution would have little impact unless the city invested in Black and Brown communities.

“No matter what policies you have in place, if people are not investing in you, investing in community, investing in your projects, you will continuously have a family that is struggling,” Webster said.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.