Last week I reflected on the events here at home and across the country in response to the death of George Floyd. [Link: A Revealing Moment for Our Nation]
This week I write to share an update on the steps that the Massachusetts House of Representatives will take in effort to help address the systemic inequities that lead to racial bias.
In conjunction with the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, House leadership has pledged to take immediate action to send an omnibus bill to Governor Baker before July 31st.
It is the House’s intention to work to address things that lead to or perpetuate racial bias – both implicit and explicit – while identifying ways to make continued progress on issues that require additional review.
Together the Speaker and the Chair of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus have begun outlining short-term actions that focus on accountability, training, and certification of law enforcement. Also included are intentions to abolish the use of the chokehold by law enforcement and to ensure more opportunity for minority recruitment.
In the days and weeks ahead, the House will work together to iron out the details of these concepts. There is a much longer road to achieving equal justice for all in the Commonwealth and passing the omnibus bill in the near-term is crucial in that endeavor.
While I'm glad to see the House make addressing structural inequities a priority, it is also important that we not lose sight of the discussions that need to advance around education and income inequality as well as, and specifically, the health disparities that disproportionately affect people of color. Those disparities have been on stark display as a result of COVID-19, and pandemic or not, Black mothers are four times as likely to die during childbirth as White mothers. That fact is hard for many to comprehend as a reality in 2020 and it shouldn't be. These inequities are included in the compound pain fueling protests and demonstrations in the streets. We are at a point where we can no longer turn away.
I look forward to conversing and working alongside colleagues and stakeholders alike. Several constituents have shared their perspectives thus far and I invite you to do the same by emailing me at William.Driscoll@mahouse.gov.
I will continue to listen and learn with an action-oriented mindset. The tough conversations we are having in both public and private are necessary as we all do our part to work toward a decent and just future for all Americans.
State Representative, 7th Norfolk Distict