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Cleveland Council Considers Declaring Racism A Public Health Crisis

Erik Drost

Cleveland City Council is considering an ordinance that would declare racism to be a public health crisis.

Councilman Blaine Griffin says it’s the first step toward addressing how racism affects society. He says issues that bring down life expectancy – such as violence and industrial pollution – have been caused by centuries of racist policies.

“You have Jim Crow laws,” he says. “You have redlining that many of our communities have experienced. We believe that all of these activities – that were government-sponsored activities – have led to the lack of affordable housing, poor housing conditions, health disparities, educational gaps.”

The ordinance needs to be reviewed by council’s finance committee before a vote.

If approved, Griffin says a coalition of civil rights and community organizations will form a working group to explore the issues caused by racism, before coming up with ways to address those concerns through public policy.. He cites the NAACP, Urban League of Greater Cleveland, United Way of Greater Cleveland, Birthing Beautiful Communities, YWCA of Greater Cleveland, and First Year Cleveland as potential members.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.