Press Release

July 28, 2023
Cardin, Brown, Booker, Padilla Introduce Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis
Recognizing Role of Race in Health Disparities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and colleagues reintroduced a Senate Resolution to declare racism a public health crisis. Senator Cardin has been a cosponsor of similar legislation since 2020.

“Long-standing systemic racism and socioeconomic disparities have limited access to life-saving care and treatment for communities of color,” said Senator Cardin. “State legislatures, like in my home state of Maryland, have led the way with legislation recognizing racism’s central role in creating a public health crisis in these vulnerable communities. The federal government must follow their lead to begin closing these health gaps and expand health equity across the nation.”

“This resolution is an important step toward recognizing the racial disparities in healthcare that have existed for far too long, while also outlining concrete action we can take now to help reverse them,” said Senator Brown. “Your background or the color of your skin shouldn’t determine whether you get quality, respectful care, or whether your air and water are clean, or whether there’s a good hospital nearby. This declaration will help to lay the foundation for change, so that all Americans can live longer, healthier lives.”

“Across the United States, communities of color continue to be disproportionately affected by negative health outcomes, from chronic diseases to maternal and infant mortality,” said Senator Booker. “These health inequities stem from years of discriminatory policies that have disenfranchised, neglected, and disrespected Black, Indigenous, AAPI, and other communities of color. Declaring racism a public health crisis is a small, but vital, step toward raising awareness around the racial health disparities in our country and addressing the systemic inequities affecting communities of color.”

“Over generations, racism and its compounding impacts have harmed the health and well-being of communities of color across America,” said Senator Padilla. “Our resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis is a first step toward bringing more attention to these deep-rooted inequities but there is much more work to be done. This resolution must serve as a catalyst in the urgent need to address these disparities and deliver justice for millions of Americans.”

“For America to reach its full potential we must address the underlying racial injustices that remain deeply embedded in our nation, deepening wounds that have yet to be addressed,” said YWCA USA CEO, Margaret Mitchell. “The introduction of the resolution declaring racism a public health crisis lays the groundwork to continue building a more equitable future for people of color. YWCA applauds the introduction of this critical resolution and looks forward to working with Members of Congress to advance a public health approach that can effectively disrupt and end racial injustice in our communities.”

The resolution acknowledges the history of racism and discrimination within health care and the systemic barriers that people of color continue to face when seeking care. The resolution also highlights the effects of systemic racism on the health and wellness of communities of color, resulting in shorter life expectancy, worsened health outcomes, and enhanced exposure to harmful or dangerous environments. This resolution encourages concrete action to address health disparities and inequity across all sectors in society.

The resolution also was cosponsored by Senators. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

Full text of the resolution is available HERE.

A full list of Supporting Organizations is available HERE.