Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives’ new Select Committee on Racial Justice met for the first time today. Video of the entire hearing will be available here later this afternoon. The committee’s next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 29.
“The events we’ve seen in 2020 shined a bright light on racial inequities in our communities and in our systems, but we know these inequities existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic or the tragic death of George Floyd,” said committee co-chair Rep. Ruth Richardson. “By establishing this new select committee, the Minnesota House is acknowledging that racism exists, that it is systemic, and that racism is harmful.”
The select committee’s first hearing focused on health equity and featured presentations from nationally-renowned and Minnesota-based experts, including past president of the American Public Health Association Camara Phyllis Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. and University of Minnesota School of Public Health researcher Rachel Hardeman, Ph.D., M.P.H.
“We recognize that systemic racism is not an easy topic for some people to hear about, talk about, or acknowledge, but for many of us this has been a problem we’ve faced our entire lives,” said committee co-chair Rep. Rena Moran. “Through this select committee, we have an opportunity to learn, grow, and make real change as an institution and as a society.”
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association have all recognized that racism is a social determinant for health, with a profound impact across an individual’s lifespan, along with other long-standing, unaddressed disparities and socioeconomic inequities as a result of systemic racism.
“Dismantling systemic and institutional racism won’t happen overnight, but the Minnesota House is committed to having the difficult conversations that make progress possible,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman.