New York Board of Health Declares a Public Health Crisis, but the Cure Can’t Come in a Bottle – Opinion

If you haven’t heard, there’s a health crisis in New York.

It has brought down the city’s malady.

I’m referring, of course, to the belief that certain shades of skin are superior.

Thankfully, the evident body governing such a thing — the Board of Health — has come to the rescue.

The 11-member group — comprised largely of those appointed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio — issued a Monday resolution.

And it’s no old-school statement: The declaration is distinctly antiracist.

The proclamation points out “the mission of the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Health Department) is to protect and promote the health of all New Yorkers.”

As for structural racism — that would be, specific mechanisms intentionally wedged into systems to forcibly harm people due to their race — is there such a thing in America?

Yes, it was. This must be removed from existence if it is.

But so far as I’ve noticed, no one cares to point to offending innards so they may be uninstalled.

Rather, we’re perpetually provided a preponderance of vague confirmation and condemnation.

Apropos of that, New York’s determined we’re still structurally stricken.

[T]here is a long history of structural racism impacting services and care across all institutions within our society…

To be precise, the racist crisis does not concern coronavirus

[B]lack, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) New Yorkers have suffered from disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and death, including a disproportionate drop in life expectancy for Black and Latino New Yorkers, 1, 2 and Black and Latino New Yorkers have inequitably low rates of COVID-19 vaccination…

But it isn’t limited to the pandemic:

[T]he NYC Health Department has extensively documented racial inequities in rates of HIV, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, infant mortality, mental health conditions, chronic disease prevalence and mortality, gun violence and other forms of physical violence, premature mortality, among others4 that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic…

The resolution calls out “rising anti-Asian discrimination” caused in part by “the Page Exclusion Act, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and Japanese internment.”

Furthermore, there’s a growing “involvement with law enforcement” — entanglements that are “associated with poorer health outcomes, including injuries and fatalities.”

The bottom line

[S]tructural racism systematically excludes, marginalizes, and harms BIPOC across NYC through discriminatory housing, employment, education, healthcare, criminal legal, and other systems, all of which result in avoidable and unjust health outcomes (health inequities)…

Now let’s get to the antiracism part:

[The Board requests] the NYC Health Department establish a Data for Equity internal working group to ensure the Health Department apply an intersectional, anti-racism equity lens to public health data and provide annual guidance to other NYC Mayoral agencies on best practices to collect and make available to the Health Department relevant data to track and improve health equity…

The Board calls on the NYC Health Department to “develop priorities and next steps for a racially just recovery from COVID-19 and other actions – including resource allocation — to address this public health crisis in the short and long-term.”

The Department should also “perform an anti-racism review of the NYC Health Code to identify any existing provisions that support systemic and structural racism and bias and recommend new provisions to dismantle systemic and structural racism and bias.”

It’s requested that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports to the Board of Health at least twice annually, to update it on its progress in overcoming structural racism and antiracism.

In case you don’t recall, “antiracism” considers colorblindness a microaggression (per CNN).

And here’s a definition courtesy of UCLA Law Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw:

“The active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance. This, of course, also involves a critical understanding of the history of whiteness in America.”

Will the Health Department solve America’s sickening racism?

Either way, it looks to me we’re a society sogging in the milk of meaningless moralizing.

The significance of our words and ideas — once clearly understood — has substantially diminished.

What is the purpose of an East Coast health agency addressing social ills or purporting it to do so?

Whatever the answer, it isn’t the first.

Recently, the CDC declared structural racism a public-health threat.

As reported by RedState’s Bonchie, the CDC did the same regarding gun violence.

No doubt, the agency will tell us what Christmas is all about.

Meanwhile, “violence” now applies to syllables — sounds or visuals representing concepts.

What does it mean to be a person?

Our words have become a mess.

Our agencies are also featured in their announcements.

New York: The Department would like the Board to admit its mistakes.

[The Department of Health] requests that the NYC Health Department research, clarify, and acknowledge examples of its historic role in divesting and underinvesting in critical community-led health programs, and participate in a truth and reconciliation process with communities harmed by these actions…

New York’s resolve notwithstanding, racism is going to be even harder to hamper than you might expect.

The Board says it doesn’t exist:

Race is a social and political construct…with no biological or genetic basis.

They are still my best wishes.



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