ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 175

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JULY 16, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  ANGELA V. MCKNIGHT

District 31 (Hudson)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Jasey

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Declares racism a public health crisis in New Jersey.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Assembly Resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in the State of New Jersey.

 

Whereas, The United States has historically and systemically disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and religious groups across the country, creating deep-seated problems that persist today, more than 150 years after slavery ended, and 50 years after the civil rights movement; and

Whereas, It is widely understood that structural racism manifests in differential access by race to opportunities, resources, conditions, and power within the country’s  medical and public health systems; and

Whereas, Black people contend with disproportionately high death rates for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer; and

Whereas, Heart disease is the leading cause of death for black women and according to the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, this is largely due to race-related stress, barriers to care, and racism from health care provider; and

Whereas, Black women die from pregnancy and childbirth at three to four times the rate of white women, and black children are more than twice as likely to have asthma as white children; and

 Whereas, These systemic racial health disparities have myriad causes, such as lack of health insurance, failures of the medical system, and inadequate access to health care; and

Whereas, Black people are five times more likely than whites to be killed by police shootings while unarmed; and

Whereas, Excessive police force and verbal altercations between law enforcement officers and the public is a communal violence, particularly among black and brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, that significantly drives unnecessary and costly injury and death; and

Whereas, Systemic racism as a driver of health inequity is also particularly evident in findings from a 2018 study showing that law enforcement-involved deaths of unarmed black individuals were associated with adverse mental health among black American adults—a spillover effect on the population, regardless of whether the individual affected had a personal relationship with the victim or the incident was experienced vicariously; and

Whereas, The trauma of violence in a person’s life course is associated with chronic stress, higher rates of comorbidities, and lower life expectancy, all of which bear extensive care and economic burden on healthcare systems while sapping the strength of affected families and communities; and

Whereas, Sustained exposure to racism in all of its forms is a critical determinant of health because it increases stress hormones, such as cortisol, which impacts the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of those who experience racism each and every day; and

Whereas, Studies have shown that implicit biases and internalized racism has led to black and brown people having less access to health care, preventive care, and quality education, and suffering from higher incarceration rates and increased mortality rates; and

Whereas, In New Jersey, one of the wealthiest states in America, the median net worth for white families is $352,000, the highest net wealth in America. The median net worth for New Jersey’s black families is just $6,100; and

Whereas, Black people in New Jersey are three times more likely to face the use of force by a police officer than white people; and

Whereas, In 2016, the United. States Department of Justice found that 75 percent of all police stops in the city of Newark were unconstitutional, and over 20 percent of police stops involved excessive use of force; and

Whereas, New Jersey maintains a public school system in which nearly half of the State’s black, Latina, and Latino students attend schools that are at least 90 percent  non-white; and

Whereas, In New Jersey, a black child is 21 times more likely than a white child to be sentenced to prison– the highest youth incarceration disparity in America, even though black and white children commit most offenses at similar rates; and

Whereas, The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Public Health Association have all formally declared that, along with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), racism is a public health issue, and called upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other leading health organizations to study the public health effects of racism, physical and verbal violence between law enforcement officers and black and brown communities, and the health, economic, education, and legal disparities rooted in a history of unequal treatment in racially marginalized communities; and

Whereas, The foregoing findings demonstrate the prevalence of systemic racism, racism’s role as a driver of health inequity, and the detrimental effects that racism has on the citizens of the State of New Jersey and this county; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This House declares racism as a public health crisis in the State of New Jersey.

 

     2.    Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the Commissioner of Health and the Attorney General.

STATEMENT

 

     This resolution declares racism a public health crisis in the State of New Jersey.  It is widely understood that systemic racism is a driver of health inequity and is manifested in differential access by race to opportunities, resources, conditions, and power within the medical and public health systems.

     Black people contend with disproportionately high death rates for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and these racial health disparities have myriad causes such as lack of health insurance, failures of the medical system, and inadequate access to health care.

     Physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public is a communal violence, particularly among black and brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, that significantly drives unnecessary and costly injury and death.  The trauma of violence in a person’s life course is also associated with chronic stress, higher rates of comorbidities and lower life expectancy, all of which bear extensive care and economic burden on healthcare systems while sapping the strength of affected families and communities.

     Studies have shown that implicit biases and internalized racism has led to black and brown people having less access to health care, preventive care, and quality education, and suffering from higher incarceration and increased mortality rates throughout this country and State.

     The foregoing findings demonstrate the prevalence of systemic racism, racism’s role as a driver of health inequity, and the detrimental effects that racism has on the citizens of the State of New Jersey and this country.