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Ruth Richardson
Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights (center), has authored House Resolution 1, which declares racism a public health crisis. (Staff photo: Kevin Featherly)

Bar Buzz: Resolution declares racism public health crisis

The Minnesota House is likely to vote July 20 on a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.

The measure, House Resolution 1, also creates a House select committee to analyze potential legislation through “an intersectional race-equity lens.” Intersectionality is a method of examining the ways that women and people of color are marginalized because of their race, gender, class and other differences.

“Racism has adversely impacted the lives of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Americans, not only in Minnesota but across the nation,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, the resolution’s author. She spoke to the House Rules committee last week. “Studies have shown that racism is a public health crisis that can be lethal.”

The resolution declares “race is a social construct with no biological basis” that has been “embedded in the foundation of America, beginning with chattel slavery.”

It applies to the entire state and affirms that the Minnesota House is an active participant in dismantling racism. The select committee would assess existing policies and set measurable goals for advancing equity.

“The systems are working just as they were designed to work,” Richardson told the committee on July 14. “And they have been designed to perpetuate injustice and to perpetuate inequity.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, called the resolution a “first step” for the House toward reconsidering its own conduct and becoming “a more just body.”

“I believe that with the right attitude and right spirit of seeking to correct injustice, we can move forward together,” he said.

The resolution ends with an invitation to the governor and Minnesota Senate to adopt similar resolutions, affirming that racism leads to disparities in areas like family stability, health, public safety and housing.

The resolution was adopted on July 14 with a unanimous voice vote of the Rules and Legislative Administration Committee. It was then moved directly to the House floor for a vote.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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