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Racism Makes You Sick; VA Passes Resolution For Remedies

It’s long been known that racial inequality tracks with higher rates of health problems and earlier death. Now Virginia has become the first state in the south to call out racism as a public health crisis perpetuated for hundreds of years ---and promote a plan to remedy the situation. 

With black women up to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women and black men more than twice as likely to be killed by police, average life expectancy for African Americans is four years below the average for this country.

“The first step in correcting the presence of this barrier in our institutions and in our very foundation, is to formally declare that it exists and to lay out a passport to eradicating it.


That’s Virginia Delegate Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg.  She introduced the resolution that passed earlier this year.

“This resolution does not make claim that any individual is a racist,” says Lashrecse.   It’s meant merely to “acknowledge the presence that racism has in our society, specifically in Virginia, particularly given our racial history. And so this is merely just a first step and the real work will begin by executing the, specific actions that are outlined in this resolution.

Virginia Tech Political Science Professor, Brandy Faulkner has been working on this proposal to address race based disparities for the past two years. She says one way to grapple with it, is to look at the big picture.

“Sometimes, when we think about racism, we think about individual actions.

‘Did I say something racist? Did I treat someone differently because of their race? ‘

And certainly we should be examining individual behavior, but racism is broader than individual actions. It's a system in which power and resources are inequitably distributed on the basis of race.

And now in Virginia there’s a resolution against it.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.