Party Resolutions

Resolution 2019-008: Regarding Racism as a Threat to Public Health

Sponsored by: Resolution submitted by Peter Nordbye, Clackamas County & Travis Nelson, DNC Member Approved: 08/11/2019


WHEREAS, the Democratic Party of Oregon Platform, states: “We believe in the right of all to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, class, residency status, disability or other identifying qualities.”, and

WHEREAS, racism is widespread in our society and violates this democratic principle because it “…is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning values on the societal interpretation of how one looks (which we call ‘race’), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources,” 

WHEREAS, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has determined that a protocol for addressing a threat to public health is based on the presence of four factors, namely that the behavior is

  1. A burden on the culture,
  2. Disproportionately shared by one sector of the population, and
  3. Shown by evidence to be impacted by upstream change, but
  4. That current measures are insufficient, and

WHEREAS, as stated in the above-mentioned article on Racism and Health, intentional or unintentional racism is a threat to public health and operates at various levels in society, such as,

  • Institutional racism involving “policies and procedures that have reduced access to housing, neighborhood, and educational quality, employment opportunities, and other desirable resources in society”
  • Abuses in the criminal justice system such as racially targeted policing, prosecutorial overcharging, coercive plea bargains, biased jury selection, and sentencing practices that result in a disproportionate number of African American, Latino, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native American, and other people of color, as well as economically disadvantaged people entering and being trapped in the criminal justice system
  • Cultural racism “at the societal and individual level that negatively affects economic status and health by creating an environment hostile to egalitarian policies, triggering negative stereotypes and discrimination”,
  • Hate crimes, including the deadly act that occurred during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and many other actions common in our society, directed at people based on their race that are an obvious threat to public health. This concern is called out by four medical groups: The American College of Physicians, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, and

WHEREAS, experiences of racial discrimination are an important type of psychosocial stressor that can lead to adverse changes in health status and altered behavioral patterns that increase health risks, and

WHEREAS, it follows that racism, including hate crimes, institutional racism, criminal justice abuses, cultural racism, and other racial discrimination experiences, is a barrier to health equity because it creates high levels of stress and chronic illnesses, depriving those affected of the economic abilities to have access to health care and/or places those affected by racism in the situation of interfacing with a medical community unprepared to deal with the effects of racism, and 

WHEREAS, the APHA Presidential Initiative, a national campaign against racism “…aims to identify all areas in which racism exists and operates to take swift and practical steps toward health equity through its elimination” with the goals of:

  • Putting racism on the agenda by naming racism as a force determining the societal determinants of health,
  • Asking “How is racism operating here?” by identifying how racism drives past and current policies practices, norms, and values that create inequitable conditions in which we are born, grow, live, learn, and age,
  • Organizing and strategizing to act. Promote and facilitate conversations, research and invention to address racism and its negative impact on the health of our nation; and

WHEREAS, the above recitals clearly demonstrate findings that racism is a burden on our culture, is disproportionately shared by sectors of our population, current measures are insufficient, and that there are initiative goals that can effect upstream changes beginning with putting racism on the agenda as a public health threat.


Section 1. That racism is an endemic threat to public health by the CDC’s criteria and all due diligence be undertaken to address it and the various forms of trauma it causes.

Section 2. To partner with Democratic Party of Oregon communities of color and low-income communities to address health inequities through culturally specific approaches.

Section 3. To ensure that people of color be leaders in the discussions and decision-making processes involving the causes, consequences and solutions in the effects of racial inequality on one’s health and evaluate efficacy on a regular basis to be determined with those communities.

Section 4. That at the local, state, and federal level adequate funding be provided for public health organizations to combat this threat.

Section 5.  To call on the Oregon Health Authority to name racism as a threat to public health

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