On Tuesday, a major American city declared racism a “public health crisis” in order to push “anti-racist” policies.
Erin Mendenhall, mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, announced that she and the city council “signed a joint resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. We are publicly acknowledging the existence of a grave inequity many in our community have long experienced, and are committing ourselves to creating policies and ordinances that are anti-racist.”
The resolution argues that “racism is a serious public health threat because racism — both interpersonal and structural — is proven to have harmful impacts to the mental and physical health of communities of color.” It argues that racism “directly impacts Salt Lake City residents resulting in health disparities that are both measurable and preventable,” that racism “affects where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays, which creates inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits — such as housing, education, wealth, and employment which are often referred to as social determinants of health.”
These “structural inequities” result in “increased exposure to environmental toxins, unmet housing needs, disparities in policing and the criminal justice system, inadequate private and public investment, decreased access to educational and employment opportunities and multitudes of health measures.”
The document clearly reflects Marxist critical race theory (CRT). It declares that “this nation and the states and municipalities within have been designed to systematically disadvantage underrepresented racial and ethnic groups thereby creating health disparities that have persisted even after the Civil Rights Movement following the abolition of slavery.” The document argues that the COVID-19 pandemic “has illustrated how pre-existing structural inequities created heavier burdens of disease, death, and social consequences onto communities of color in Utah.”
The resolution encourages “all who reside, work, and own businesses in our city to commit to the work necessary to dismantle racist legacies and equitably work to repair our communities.” The resolution also directs county health officials to analyze city health metrics by disaggregating the data, to determine “tasks to be done” to “make public health data available online,” and to “utilize city equity staff to work with County Health partners to address systemic barriers to health including racism.”
.@slccouncil and I signed a joint resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. We are publicly acknowledging the existence of a grave inequity many in our community have long experienced, and are committing ourselves to creating policies and ordinances that are anti-racist pic.twitter.com/WIs4VvkjuI
— Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) July 21, 2021
While this resolution seems little more than symbolic, it sends a clear message: a full endorsement of the claim that America in general — and Salt Lake City, in particular — is systemically racist and this racism threatens the health of racial minorities.
While poverty often correlates with poorer health and poverty rates tend to be higher among racial minorities, that does not prove that racial disparities are necessarily a result of racism or that racism is the cause behind health disparities, in particular. Yet, critical race theory claims that whenever there is a racial disparity, it must be — ipso facto — due to a hidden form of racism. This ideology teaches Americans to look for racism everywhere, and it further divides Americans by race, demonizing white people as oppressors.
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While Mendenhall may mean well, her resolution will not help address the public health threats that racial minorities face. Instead, it will pit residents of Salt Lake City against one another and lead to more mistrust between the races.
Although Mendenhall’s resolution does not appear to use emergency power to circumvent the city council, it echoes a growing trend of Democrats abusing their power in the name of fighting a “public health” crisis after the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) declared a public health emergency on gun violence. Democrats in Congress have filed a bill to declare a national emergency on climate. A “public health emergency” on racism might justify efforts to enshrine CRT in public schools, even as parents work to prevent the destructive ideology from infecting their kids’ curriculum.