Sherrod Brown Wants To Declare Racism a 'Public Health Crisis'

Sherrod Brown (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
March 12, 2024

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) wants to declare racism a "public health crisis," the symptoms of which include "microaggressions" and the "forms of violence" that black Americans face when "jogging in neighborhoods."

Brown on Monday introduced "a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis," which calls for "a nationwide strategy to address health disparities and inequities across all sectors in society." The resolution does not offer strategies for "dismantling systemic practices and policies that perpetuate racism" but does call for "governments to engage significant resources to empower the communities that are impacted."

It's a potentially risky resolution for Brown, one of the Senate's staunchest progressives, who faces a tough reelection bid in a state that swung for former president Donald Trump by more than 7 points in 2020. Brown, who votes with President Joe Biden 98 percent of the time, has attempted to position himself as a defender of blue-collar workers.

But not even a tough reelection fight could stop Brown from submitting his resolution, a version of which he has reintroduced every year since 2020. Though the broader thrust of the resolution remains unchanged, the details have changed since he first cosponsored the bill alongside then-senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.).

The original draft, for example, did not include a reference to the alleged dangers that black Americans face when going on a jog, nor a reference to the fact that "social scientists have documented racial microaggressions in contemporary United States society."

"Black people are confronted and threatened by armed citizens while performing everyday tasks, such as jogging in neighborhoods, driving, or playing in a park," the bill states.

Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.), who in 2013 chased a black man down the street with a shotgun, is not a cosponsor of the bill.

Brown's resolution says that "the myth of meritocracy" and "statements that convey color-blindness" are both "microaggressions" that "over time have a negative impact on physical health … and mental health" of minority Americans.

The Ohio senator's bill references a number of questionable statistics, including the assertion that "42 percent of employees in the United States have experienced or witnessed racism in the workplace." The source of that statistic appears to be a single 2019 survey by the job search website Glassdoor.

Brown also claims that "approximately" 1.8 million individuals with "Mexican ethnic identity" were deported during the Great Depression. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "an estimated 400,000 to 1 million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans left the US" during that period for economic reasons. From 1929 to 1935, the agency states, immigration authorities "removed approximately 82,000 Mexicans."

The senator is no stranger to the perils of racism in America. His latest memoir details the lives and careers of progressive senators, many of whom were racist, throughout history. Brown tapped an African-American narrator of erotic fiction to read the audio book, which contains several quotes that include the N-word, the Washington Free Beacon reported.