systemic racism

Towns and Cities Make Strides After Declaring Racism A Public Health Crisis

NBC Universal, Inc.

This summer, at least 17 towns and cities declared racism as a public health crisis. The move was designed to address some of the social and economic inequities that people of color face.

City leaders said that their focus is on keeping the conversation going and implementing tangible actions to bring forth equity to communities of color.

Since the death of George Floyd, people took to the streets to call for change for communities of color. In response, many Connecticut municipalities made it their mission to address the dismantling of systemic racism by making a declaration.

"What's important is we keep the fire under us to make sure that we're working on these initiatives moving forward," said New Haven's Mayor Justin Elicker. "We have to hold ourselves accountable to bring forth meaningful change."

So far, city leaders have tried to keep the issue top of mind. New Haven has worked to include affordable housing units in upcoming developments, has plans to change zoning codes, offer more educational resources for students from all socio-economic backgrounds and even offered free COVID-19 for communities that may not have access to health care.

"The action is the most important thing behind this declaration of New Haven as a place where we're calling out that racism is a public health crisis," said Mayor Elicker.

Dr. Lorenzo Boyd is the vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of New Haven and believes that accountability of actions is imperative for towns and cities to bring forth meaningful change.

"There's a lot of people that are really hurting, there's a lot of people that have pain, and they feel disgruntled and their not connected with society, their not connected with the government," said Dr. Boyd. "Moving forward, we need to keep the momentum going because we want society to be better, we want the state to be better."

In smaller towns like Orange, the option is being considered and leaders told NBC Connecticut that they're committed to listening to what the community has to say.

"We want to hear residents concerns and questions about the declaration," said James Zeoli, first selectman of Orange. "The Board of Selectman for the town of Orange, our purview is only within the boundaries within the town of Orange."

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