Wheeling YWCA petition naming racism a ‘public health crisis’ hoping to get to Governor’s desk

West Virginia

OHIO COUNTY, W.VA. (WTRF) — A petition to call racism a public health crisis was unveiled just days ago with hopes to make its way to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s desk. 

And Wheeling’s Young Women’s Christian Association is leading the charge; calling racism in West Virginia by a new name… one that would liken it more to this pandemic.  

“It is a public health crisis. Now is the time to recognize it as such.”

Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA, Wheeling

“It takes the totality of a person and wipes away the humanity of them.” 

Ron Scott Jr., Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach Director at YWCA, Wheeling

Like a virus, some claim racism affects the core of a person, and those germs are embedded deep within society. 

“There are health disparities in women giving birth, there are health disparities in medical conditions for men.”

Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA, Wheeling

“Health Care, housing, employment, which will all impact the wholeness of a person, which makes every aspect of our life less-than. So, it fits almost perfectly into the category of a public health crisis because you can’t be a healthy human being with all these factors bombarding you and all these factors tearing you away.” 

Ron Scott Jr., Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach Director at YWCA, Wheeling

Calling racism a public health crisis might sound like just words, but some say it’s a giant step never seen before. Getting closer to the core treatment, which will look different than in the past. 

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s a firm step. Because before we would do things like panel discussions, marches, a few protests, but we’re going back to the days of MLK and the civil rights movement where it’s now about policies, legislation, things that can actually affect change.”

Ron Scott Jr., Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach Director at YWCA, Wheeling

Racism goes deeper than “I just don’t like you.” And some groups throughout West Virginia are waking up. 

“With the collaboration of the Charleston YWCA and some other organizations throughout the state of West Virginia, I have no doubt that we will get there.”

Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA, Wheeling

“Once the governor puts a stamp on things, policies can be written. Agencies can be as proactive as they need to be.”

The goal is 10,000 signatures in order to make it to Governor Jim Justice’s desk. To sign that petition, head here.

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