(CMC) — Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke is leading a new US congressional initiative aimed at tackling racial disparities in the country.
Clarke, vice chair of the House of Representatives’ Energy Commerce Committee, said that she is collaborating with US Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Chair Robin Kelly, in focusing on race in America.
Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who heads the newly-launched Racial Disparities Working Group, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the initiative seeks to “raise awareness and find solutions to racial inequity”.
“The working group is housed under the Energy and Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction and addresses racial disparities within the health, communications, technology, energy, consumer protection and environmental sectors,” said Clarke, the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
“People of colour in America are disadvantaged every single day in countless ways, and yet the root causes are not always obvious nor are they clear how to fix,” she said, adding, “As founder of the newly-unveiled Racial Disparities Working Group, we will focus on uncovering these causes and finding solutions to what can often be non-obvious reasons why Black and brown people are at a disadvantage compared to our white counterparts”.
“Our country is ready for change; we are seeing it from coast to coast and the Racial Disparities Working Group will help uncover reasons, so we can bring forward real solutions for the racial inequality that America is hungry to fix.”
Clarke said this collaborative Working Group will offer a slate of “targeted, data-driven legislative strategies” to improve outcomes for impacted populations by raising awareness and taking action through, among other things, roundtables, virtual town halls, field hearings and briefings.
The Congresswomany said COVID-19 has highlighted “the harsh reality of racial health disparities and inequities in America,” adding that the formation of this working group is “a long overdue step toward Congress recognising, addressing and eliminating these disparities that have existed for too long”.
Currently, as America continues to suffer from the COVID-19 global pandemic, Clarke said the Racial Disparities Working Group’s first focus will be to study how and why COVID-19 has devastated communities of colour at higher rates than white communities.
She said this task will include demographic data reporting and collection; the availability of resources like personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators for health care centres serving minority and underserved communities — including community health centres and safety net hospitals — the physician shortage for minority communities; and general medical staffing throughout communities.