Statement of support for Minnesota House resolution declaring racism a public health crisis

Missions Inc.Chemical Dependency, Domestic Violence, Featured

Minnesota Capital building

Missions Inc. Programs supports the Minnesota House of Representatives’ resolution declaring racism a public health crisis passed on Monday, July 20.

Missions Inc. serves people in the areas of chemical dependency, domestic violence and skilled nursing – three areas deeply entwined with public health as well as with oppression and racism. The chronic stress of experiencing racism not only negatively impacts physical and mental health but systemic racism can create barriers to accessing support, treatment and justice.

  • According to DrugPolicy.org, nearly 80% of people in federal prison and 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latino – in part due to the disproportionate rates of arrest and incarceration of people of color during the U.S. “war on drugs.”
  • In 2016 in Minnesota, African Americans were two times more likely to die of a drug overdose than whites; American Indians were six times more likely.
  • Reasons for these disparities include historical trauma, lack of access to appropriate medical care or substance abuse treatment and racial bias in diagnosing symptoms, according to the MN Department of Health.
  • 45% of Black women and 40% of Black men experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, compared to 37% of white women and 30% of white men, according to a 2010-2012 National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey.
  • A 2017 Violence Policy Center analysis found, Black women are murdered by men at more than twice the rate of white women.
  • Domestic violence survivors of color face unique barriers in seeking help and justice, including historically legitimate mistrust of law enforcement and the criminal justice system; lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services; the protection of Black men from institutionalized racism; and racial stereotypes expressed by service providers, according to the South Carolina Council Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
  • In 2012, a probe into Chicago’s nursing homes found that the information on Nursing Home Care, a website promoted by the U.S. Government, inaccurately asserted their level of staffing in majority Black nursing homes, according to an article by Center for Public Integrity investigation and staffing levels at these nursing homes were significantly lower than majority white nursing homes.
  • A 2016 study into racial bias and pain assessment found that 40% of medical trainees held a false belief about minorities and pain such as “Black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s.”

At Missions Inc., we know that our vision of a world where every person realizes their worth and lives with dignity is impossible without addressing systemic racism. As we work towards that vision we must demonstrate, in our words and actions, that Black Lives Matter.

We are grateful to our legislators who supported this resolution, particularly chief author Rep. Ruth Richardson, for publicly naming your intent to address systemic racism in our government and community. As your constituents, we look forward to seeing tangible actions that create equity for all Minnesotans.