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Why this predominantly White county in Southern California is declaring racism a public health crisis

Andrew Do was afraid to play sports his last two years of high school.

“I didn’t want to walk home alone after practices and be harassed, and beat up, and strangled,” he said in an interview with.

His constant fear: violent racism, “extreme hostility,” and physical assault.

Decades later, the refugee who arrived in the United States from Vietnam in the mid-1970s, is now a Republican member of the powerful Orange County, California, Board of Supervisors, yet continues to face vitriolic racism – even while seated on the dais at public government meetings.

At a Tuesday meeting of the Board of Supervisors in the once-solid Republican stronghold of Orange County, Do put forth a resolution taking a stance similar to many.

The resolution was unanimously adopted by the board, but was met with contempt by some audience members in attendance, with at least one heard on video yelling an ethnic slur.

During the public comments segment of the meeting, one speaker equated Do’s resolution with critical race theory .

The Republican supervisor fired back at his critics, telling them, “For those of you who care enough to follow, I am far from the Left…so don’t get on your soap box and preach to me.”

Democrat Doug Chaffee, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, co-sponsored Do’s resolution and outlined during the meeting why racism poses such an acute public health crisis.

Experiencing racism has been associated with increased risk for numerous mental and physical chronic health conditions, like heart disease, cancer, asthma, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetics (sic), and suicide,” Chaffee said. “These health disparities underscore the urgent need to address systemic racism as a root cause of racial and ethnic health inequities and a core element of public health efforts.”

Speaking from his own experience, Do described to the audience how he believed racism impacted one’s psychological development.

Do told CNN the resolution declaring racism a public health crisis is more than symbolic, and will include a review of county government policies and operations by an ad hoc committee tasked with identifying potential practices of concern.

While he said he does not believe county governance operates under any policies that are inherently racist by design, the board of supervisors will be reviewing whether a “lack of understanding” or “inadvertence on our part may have adverse effect on ethnic communities.”

For example, Do said the review will include looking at the locations of county social services facilities, homeless shelters, and hospitals, to “lower barriers” and ensure underrepresented communities are not being inadvertently denied access.

“[W]e need to expand the way we look at how we deliver services, because there are segments of the population perhaps that we haven’t reached,” he said.

than Republicans, Do is quick to ridicule what he perceives as overreach by some progressives in expanding government in the name of fighting racism.

“My concern is when we talk about racism, that the topic can be hijacked by people on either end of the spectrum – either to deny that racism exists, or to use as an excuse for big government programs that are not necessarily related .

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