City Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

City Manager Tom Ambrosino signed a declaration this week deeming racism a public health emergency.

The long-ranging declaration followed those of other cities in the area, and was the starting point for examining racism in City government, in policing, in education, in housing and in health care – among others.

“Racism is threat to public health and safety, and is a paramount social determinant of health, shaping access to the resources that create opportunities for health, including public safety, housing, education and employment, and is a persistent barrier to health equity for all residents of Chelsea,” read the declaration.

The declaration indicated structural and systemic racism resulted in more health disparities physically, mentally and overall for people of color. It also defined racial justice as the creation and proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunity, treatments and outcomes for all people regardless of race.

“In order to be effective in instituting the change required to achieve racial justice, we must start within our local communities by addressing racism that contributes to disparities among social determinants of health,” it read. “All agencies of City government must commit to addressing the impact that racism has had on the lives of all of our neighbors as well as its impact on the overall health of our City and to taking concrete steps to eliminate structural racism in education, housing, public safety, health care and other areas of society.”

The declaration invites all residents of Chelsea to join in the work, and the order was approved by the City Council on June 29.

As part of the declaration, Ambrosino has pledged the City will commit to four things immediately.

•That the City of Chelsea will work to institute changes in our policies and practices across all municipal departments to address institutional racism and the impacts of racism on the social determinants of health;

•That, in identifying the problems and solutions to systemic racism, the City will engage historically marginalized communities and fully support community-driven responses;

•That, when solutions are identified that the community believes will empower them to tackle systemic barriers to justice and racial equity, the City will support and fund such solutions; and

•That, in addition to its local efforts, the City will advocate at the state and federal level for policies and funding opportunities that directly combat systemic racism.

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