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Rep. Hayes asks Congress to declare racism a public health crisis

U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes
Molly Ingram
U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) has introduced legislation that would declare racism a public health crisis. She has been advocating for the House resolution since 2020.

Hayes, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was joined by Tony Cárdenas of California, a Congressional Hispanic Caucus member, in introducing the legislation.

The legislation highlights the effects of racism faced while seeking healthcare. Hayes said barriers to accessing healthcare have led to a shorter life expectancy and poor health outcomes for Black and Brown Americans.

“Racial disparities have led to dangerous lapses in our healthcare system, compromising the safety and wellness of communities of color,” Hayes said. “These deeply-rooted inequities were magnified during the global pandemic, resulting in a disproportionate impact among racial and ethnic minorities. As our nation continues to heal from COVID-19, the only path forward is one in which we finally acknowledge system failures for Black and Brown Americans. We can no longer ignore how profoundly embedded these disparities are.”

The resolution would encourage concrete action to prevent medical racism.

Connecticut passed similar legislation in 2021.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.