Ibram X. Kendi of BU, representatives examine racial disparities in health and environment – The Daily Free Press

Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi discussed anti-racism in policy making with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley at a Facebook Live event Thursday. WITH THE AUTHORIZATION OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Representative Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Ibram X. Kendi, Director and Founder of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, and Representative Barbara Lee, D-Cali., Hosted a Facebook Live event to discuss the development of anti-racist policies Thursday evening.

The three discussed the need for anti-racism in the areas of public health, voting, criminal justice and environmental policy.

Pressley began by discussing her and Lee’s Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, which would require the federal government to develop anti-racism health policy and tackle police violence with a public health approach.

“He recognizes the simple truth,” Pressley said. “The government will never be able to address racial disparities until it actively confronts and dismantles systemic racism.”

Kendi discussed the health disparities caused by COVID-19 in communities of color and how “racist policies” have been the catalyst.

“I think for too long we have blamed blacks and browns for the causes of the disparities and inequalities,” Kendi said, “not realizing that when we do this we are racist.”

Kendi said health disparities existed before COVID-19 – communities of color have higher rates of heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease.

“This is a serious problem, and we should definitely recognize that racism is a public health emergency,” he said.

Kendi then spoke about her definition of anti-racism and said it was not “fixed” but rather something one should aim to achieve.

“I define anti-racist as someone who expresses an idea of ​​racial equality or who supports a policy that leads to racial equity and justice,” Kendi said. “No one becomes anti-racist, that’s what we can strive for based on what we say and do.”

Kendi and Pressley also discussed Pressley’s amendment to HR-1 to lower the federal voting age to 16.

“The younger the better,” said Kendi, “This will then allow more blacks and browns to vote, and thus bring a greater sense of multiracial democracy to this country.”

Lee noted the approaches to anti-racism in terms of a “radical re-imagining” of the criminal justice system.

“We have to have restorative justice,” said Lee, “which means whatever education, manpower training, health care, housing, everything to help repair the damage of these racist policies. “

Kendi also commented on criminal justice and cited the difference between racist and anti-racist policies: Anti-racist policies reduce racial inequalities while racist policies maintain them.

“I think that would simplify a lot but of course it’s hard to prove intent,” Kendi said. “It is very easy to prove the result. “

Lee said she got involved in environmental policy because she grew up in a Latinx and Black neighborhood that was right next to a smelter – and a factory where metal is mined for ore.

“We have started to examine environmental racism and how these toxic sites are located in our community,” Lee said. “How businesses come in without even any community involvement and land in our communities. “

The smelter’s pollution caused long-term health problems for her family and many other members of the community.

“We end up paying the price because of the public health consequences of environmental pollutants and toxins,” Lee said.

Pressley ended the presentation by expressing his gratitude to all who attended the panel.

“Please remember to be kind to yourself, feed your spirit,” Pressley said. “Be as radical and daring in the work of liberation, and just as radical and daring in the joy and healing of black people.”

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