CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Chicopee City Council has officially agreed to declare racism as a public health crisis.
According to a news release sent to 22News, the decision to pass the resolution was an unanimous 13 to 0 vote and was authorized by Councilor Joel McAuliffe.
The resolution outlines the effect of systemic racism on the “social determinants of health” such as access to education, healthy nutrition, employment, a clean environment, and healthcare. Research has proven people of color have unequal access to the social determinants of health even if they live in the same community as white individuals and earn the same income. Because of this, Blacks, Latinos, and Native Populations face a greater risk of illnesses like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more severe diseases that can ultimately reduce their life expectancy.
The resolution also outlines the cause of increased stress, anxiety, and PTSD people of color endure due to the fear and distrust of the police. Reforms are stated within the new resolution that includes effective programs such as law enforcement accountability and community engagement to help increase access to equal opportunity.
Before bringing the idea to the council, McAuliffe attended local demonstrations and met with organizers including Melacia Delgado, Chicopee’s Black Lives Matter March organizer, Jeannette Rivera, a community organizer, and Johnny Miranda, an activist, local business owner, and resident of Chicopee.
McAuliffe assures this resolution reflects progress in Chicopee. “It is a testament to the work done by organizers in our community to bring us together. It’s an important first step, but the work is yet not done,” he added.