Windsor Town Council Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis

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Racism has been declared a public health crisis in Windsor, the first town in the state to pass a resolution on the subject, but possibly not the last.

The Town Council handed down the decision Monday night.

The unanimous vote approved a resolution to delcare racism a public health crisis.

During public comment at the virtual meeting, several people spoke up in support of the move, saying it is important to acknowledge and address.

"I know a public health crisis when I see it as defined as a complex, urgent emergency and health situation that affects the lives of other individuals. And I'm sharing with you that indeed racism affects the lives and livelihoods of individuals here in Windsor," Windsor resident Lakisha Hyatt said.

The resolution states that minorities are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of inequities in economic stability, education, physical environment, food, and access to health care. It notes that more than 100 studies have linked racism to poorer health outcomes.

"African Americans, people of color, have higher cortisol levels because of the constant trauma and stress that they deal with and that trauma and that stress leads to all kinds of other diseases and medical conditions," Nuchette Black-Burke, a member of the town council, said.

Black-Burke put forward the resolution, and said COVID-19 has exacerbated the health divide.

The resolution proposes enhancing education to understand, address and dismantle racism, as well as improve data collection and analysis to see the impacts of initiatives and policies.

That includes having deeper conversations with police and fire deparments and looking at things like traffic stops.

"To really get to and look at the data and see what policies, what systems, what processes can we put in place to ensure that people of color don't have to experience any more level of stress," Black-Burke said.

On the state level, Sen. Saud Anwar has asked the governor to declare racism a public health emergency, saying racial bias and discrimination have significant negative physical and mental health consequences.

When asked about the request, the governor said he'd have to take a look at it, but gave his thoughts.

"There are two highly infectious germs that are infecting the body. One is COVID-19 and the other is racism in this state. I could not have been clearer on that and we're going to eradicate both as best we can," Gov. Ned Lamont said.

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