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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)

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House Select Committee on Racial Justice Devotes Hearing to Public Testimony

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota House Select Committee on Racial Justice today dedicated three hours to gathering testimony from members of the public. During the hearing, Minnesotans shared a wide variety of ways systemic racism has impacted them relating to education, health care, economic opportunities, public safety systems, and more.

“Even after spending most of an afternoon hearing from people, we barely scratched the surface about how racism continues to affect Minnesotans in unacceptable ways,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), co-chair of the Select Committee. “I thank everyone who took time to share their experiences with us and their ideas for changes to improve opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”  

Sixty individuals signed up to testify before the committee, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Testifiers shared examples of health care disparities, including chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, pregnancy outcomes, and big tobacco’s targeting of flavored products – menthol as an example – to people of color. Several testifiers recommended solutions to improve education opportunities and child development, including recruiting and retaining teachers of color, college savings plans, and elimination of discipline policies that disproportionately impact students of color, resulting in the “school to prison pipeline.” Economic concerns addressed by testifiers included housing insecurity and long-term homelessness, a lack of generational wealth, and pay equity. There were also calls for continued criminal justice reform initiatives following the killing of George Floyd and support for victims of racially motivated crimes.

“The select committee’s latest hearing was of significant importance because it was devoted to collecting public testimony,” said co-chair Rep. Ruth Richardson. “We’re creating a new and long overdue space at the Legislature where Minnesotans including those closest to the pain can share their stories, perspectives, and ideas for how we reckon with systemic racism in our state.” 

The Select Committee on Racial Justice was established as part of a July 11 Minnesota House resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The Select Committee is charged with analyzing legislative efforts through an intersectional race and equity lens. A list of members is available here

"I'm grateful to the members of the public who took time to share their testimony with the committee today," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. "Public participation in this conversation is essential. The voices of those most impacted by systemic racism need to be at the center of our efforts to build a Minnesota that works better for everyone."

Video of the hearing can be accessed on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel. Previously, the committee held hearings on health mortality and morbidity, adverse childhood experiences, historical trauma, and answering the question “what is racism?” The Select Committee’s next hearing will be on Tuesday, October 20 at 1 p.m. to discuss the economic costs of racism.