South Portland targets racism as a public health crisis

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city’s Board of Health and fitness and Human Legal rights Fee are calling for a comprehensive critique of municipal laws, procedures and procedures to root out systemic racism anywhere it could exist.

The two panels collectively drafted a proposed resolution that would declare racism a community health crisis and compel the Town Council to use an outside guide to take a look at the town constitution, ordinances and staff guidelines and propose techniques to address systemic racism.

Leaders of both equally panels will existing their proposal during a council workshop Tuesday night. They presently have received suggestions from metropolis staff and lawful counsel and are trying to find assistance and aid from the council before publishing a closing draft for its acceptance.

The proposed resolution is element of a national movement targeting historic and present-day racism as the resource of systems that, as the resolution states, “implicitly and explicitly effect the actual physical, psycho-social and economic wellbeing of Black, Indigenous and People of Coloration.”

These longstanding devices of racial and socioeconomic inequity “impact training, housing, economic opportunity, wellness treatment, felony justice and other determinants of health and fitness,” the resolution states. They also “cause documented disparities in instructional outcomes, financial achievement, social standing and wellbeing amid non-White populations.”

By declaring racism a general public health and fitness disaster, South Portland has an prospect to greater the well being and wellbeing of the total community, including other teams that working experience discrimination, reported Rebecca Boulos, overall health board chair.

“Any enhancements we make for a little, vulnerable phase of our group eventually make factors far better for absolutely everyone,” claimed Pedro Vazquez, Human Rights Fee chair. “With this resolution, we can deliver some degree of consciousness (of systemic racism) and we can consider strategic action. We want this to be a group energy.”


Selecting a guide to overview and suggest motion on town rules, procedures and tactics would charge at minimum $50,000, Metropolis Supervisor Scott Morelli reported in a memo to the council.

The existing council can not compel upcoming councils to make any expenses, Morelli reported, but approving the resolution would signal normal assistance for its initiatives.

Extra than 240 condition, county and area governments have issued identical declarations determining systemic racism as a public health disaster that will have to be dealt with with strategic action and governing administration resources, according to the American Community Well being Association.

In neighboring Portland, Mayor Kate Snyder and the City Council issued a proclamation condemning racism in June 2020 and appointed a Racial Fairness Steering Committee, which has proposed extensive-ranging changes in locations these kinds of as policing, psychological well being, housing and employment.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh declared racism a general public health and fitness crisis, reallocated $3 million from the city’s $414 million law enforcement budget to handle the situation and created a COVID-19 Wellbeing Inequities Process Pressure. In Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer signed a similar executive order that outlined 7 factors of racial inequity to be addressed by city federal government, together with public safety, work, housing, community financial commitment, wellness and voting.

The proposed resolution in South Portland notes that the city formed the first municipal Human Legal rights Commission in Maine in 2020, just after Black Lives Make any difference protests erupted across Maine and the nation next the demise of George Floyd.


It also refers to an April 2021 report, primarily based on concentration teams held in March 2020, that introduced to light-weight worries of parents, employees and learners in South Portland colleges about racist remarks by teachers, inequitable treatment of pupils and a absence of belonging felt by college students of colour.

The resolution also phone calls on the town to carry out a Neighborhood Health and fitness Demands Assessment that would encompass systemic racism to inform inhabitants about the city’s historical past connected to slavery and tribal communities to contain Indigenous voices on municipal boards and to direct municipal boards to tackle systemic racism.

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