Interview: Sacramento declared racism a public health emergency. Now what?

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians and the National Alliance on Mental Health, have already done it: declaring racism, the issue that filled streets nationwide since the spring, a public health issue.

On Tuesday, with a vote by the Board of Supervisors, Sacramento County did the same.

So now what?

The county had its own recent controversy when Sacramento County Executive Navdeep Gill was placed on administrative leave for “an active personnel investigation” after being accused of allegedly screaming at Black, female employees, among other instances of harassment.

Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye helped bring forward some of the allegations against Gill. She said the county analyzed racism like another public health crisis.

“When we are looking at any public health problem, there are usually three pillars we use in addressing it,” Kasirye explained, such as defining the problem, looking at the data and impact, and intervening and providing assistance.

“Public Health already has a team that has been working on this, so we appreciate that the Board of Supervisors is basically also agreeing with the direction in which we are going,” Kasirye continued. “We are looking forward to being able to work with them in finding out how we can work together to address some of this, to start off again with the education, and to identify sources of funding.”

Psychologist and professor Dr. Kristee Haggins has also been teaming up with counties for years to address the issue of racism impacting communities.

She previously spoke with FOX40 about the experience of racism giving Black people PTSD, and her reaction to the news is, “it’s right on time.”

“We’ve known for a long time the impact of racism on folks and what that can mean,” Haggins added. “To have this now be an official kind of a commitment from our particular city and council is really important, and I’m hopeful on what some of the outcomes might be.”

One study completed in May found that 90% of Black adults and youth as young as 8 years old experience one annual experience of racism and up to five per day.

“The impact is extreme,” Haggins said.

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