THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

140

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

ASSERTING THAT RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AND URGING THE STATE TO COMMIT TO RECOGNIZING AND ADDRESSING THE RESULTING INEQUITIES, AND STUDY AND REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE ON ECONOMIC DISPARITIES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE DETRIMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH EFFECTS OF RACISM.

 

 


WHEREAS, public health is defined by the World Health Organization as "the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts of society"; and

 

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with many dimensions that act on systemic, institutional, and interpersonal levels; and

 

WHEREAS, structural racism has resulted in race functioning as a social determinant of health, with persistent racial disparities in areas such as health care, criminal justice, housing, education, employment, worker protections, climate, food access, and technology; and

 

WHEREAS, systemic racism resulting from the inherent biases and prejudices within social and political organizations, groups, and institutions continues to create barriers to success for people of color; and

 

WHEREAS, racism intersects with other forms of prejudice and oppression that increase adverse outcomes, including discrimination based on immigration status, gender and sexual identity, and mental and physical abilities; and

 

WHEREAS, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed, reaffirmed, and cast in sharp relief the exigent nature of these pre-existing inequities caused by systemic racism; and

 

WHEREAS, the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) reported in May 2020 that the highest rates of positive COVID-19 cases in several states, including Hawaii, were among native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) groups; and

 

WHEREAS, according to Keaweaimoku Kaholokula, professor and Chairperson of JABSOM's Department of Native Hawaiian Health, the higher risk of infection among NHPI communities is linked to pre-existing and underlying inequities in the social determinants of public health across racial and ethnic groups that are ubiquitous in the United States; and

 

WHEREAS, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began to heavily affect Hawaii, the Aloha United Way (AUW) issued a report on Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) households, finding that forty-two percent of Hawaii's 455,138 households struggle to make ends meet and while nine percent of these households were living beneath the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), another thirty-three percent were ALICE households that earned above the FPL, but not enough to afford basic household necessities; and

 

WHEREAS, in January 2020, Hawaii's unemployment rate was the lowest in the country at two percent, hit a historic state high of 21.9 percent in May 2020, and as of January 2021 was the highest in the country at 10.2 percent; and

 

WHEREAS, research has shown that economic disparities contribute to a public health crisis, including higher rates of illness, injury, disability, and death for people living in poverty that results in a substantially shorter life expectancy compared to affluent people; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the House of Representatives concurring, that this body asserts that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire State and that the State is urged to commit to:

 

(1) Eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system;

 

(2) Prioritizing racial equity in decision making processes;

 

(3) Acknowledging that communities of color have borne the greatest burdens of inequitable social, environmental, technological, economic, and criminal justice policies, practices, and investments;

 

(4) Understanding that the legacy of inequitable policies has caused deep disparities, harm, and mistrust; and

 

(5) Recognizing that racial equity is realized only when race can no longer be used to predict life outcomes; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this body asserts that economic disparities have contributed to a public health crisis in the State; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State, its departments and agencies, and the counties are urged to commit to engage as partners with communities and residents most impacted by systemic racism and to identify and implement solutions; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State, its departments and agencies, and the counties are urged to prioritize diversity in board membership, centering voices of people of color when addressing issues of racism, and holding one another accountable to address implicit biases of all kinds; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State, its departments and agencies, and the counties are urged to promote equity through all policies approved by the Legislature and enhance educational efforts throughout the state system aimed at understanding, addressing, and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development, and public safety; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Director of Health, in conjunction with the Directors of Human Services and community organizations, is requested to:

 

(1) Identify the twenty communities with the largest number of ALICE households in the State, as listed in the AUW ALICE Data Sheet, 2020;

 

(2) Provide a summary of all activities conducted by their departments to provide health care services in these communities;

 

(3) Develop a plan of action to reduce the number of ALICE households in the State; and

 

(4) Transmit a report of findings and recommendations to the Legislature no less than forty days before the convening of the Regular Session of 2022; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Director of the Department of Health, Dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Chairperson of the John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Native Hawaiian Health, Executive Director of Aloha United Way, and Chief Executive Officer of the Hawaii Primary Care Association.

Report Title:

Systemic Racism; NHPI Community Engagement; Public Health