Today, Ohio's Democratic senators released the following joint statement, condemning Republican Senator Steve Huffman's remarks during a hearing on SCR 14,
which would declare racism a public health crisis in Ohio. Senator Huffman "asked if 'the colored population' is hit harder by the coronavirus because perhaps they don’t wash their hands as well as other groups."
“The Ohio Senate Democrats condemn in the strongest terms the comments made by our colleague, Senator Steve Huffman.
"It was disturbing to hear an elected official express such dangerous racial stereotypes, but perhaps even more troubling that a medical doctor would hold these harmful beliefs.
"Senator Huffman's remarks occurred amid 11 hours of powerful testimony on a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis in Ohio. Two hundred Ohioans shared painful experiences with systemic racism in our state, yet their stories are not the ones making news.
"Those are the voices that deserve to be heard, and it is deeply regrettable that impassioned Ohioans have yet again been overlooked.
"It is perhaps even more clear now that the Ohio Senate must pass SCR 14 to declare racism a public health crisis in Ohio. Internalized prejudices amongst lawmakers and those in power continue to harm our minority communities in countless and lasting ways.
"SCR 14 will be a critical first step to ensuring that Ohio's laws work for all of its residents.
"Beyond SCR 14, we call on our colleagues to genuinely consider the many pieces of legislation our Caucus has introduced throughout the years, and the bills that are currently being worked on and supported, to address inequities within our system.
"Our children's school experiences still vary widely, largely due to an unconstitutional system that relies too heavily on the community's wealth.
"Ohio's median Black household income is also $27,466 lower than white Ohio households, and that gap increased significantly in recent years.
"Endless attacks on union jobs and our repeated failure to raise Ohio's minimum wage disproportionately harm black workers.
"We ask our colleagues to show their respect for black lives with real, meaningful action that will protect and support black Ohioans throughout the state.
"We will eagerly work with any legislator willing to make these policy changes, and look forward to turning pain into positive change together."