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Study looks at impacts of systemic racism in Colorado

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Governor Jay Polis signed a law that allows legislators to study the impacts of systemic racism and develop policy plans to address racial disparities.

DENVER — Democratic Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 53 into law on June 4. It allows lawmakers to study how the historical and ongoing effects of systemic racism impact Black Coloradans today.

“This bill was brought to us by our community,” Representative Naquetta Ricks (D)one of the bill sponsors said. “The bill was brought the previous year, and we were unable to get it through the statehouse. But this year was a really, really important time, and we were able to get it through.”

Ricks said seeing the bill signed is progress toward a more equitable Colorado.

“We still have a lot of systemic issues that we need to dismantle,” Ricks shared. “And I think that this bill will give us some data points and things that we can really look into and see how we can use this to now create policies that can make sure that everyone in Colorado is thriving and living their version of the American dream.”

Ricks said the study is not funded by state money. She said the nonprofit, Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (CHIC), is spearheading most of the fundraising. According to the legislation, the study needs $785,000 by the end of 2025.

Over the phone, CHIC’s CEO Sade Cooper told 9NEWS, the organization is at 96% of its donations goal. She said the nonprofit began fundraising in late 2023, and then once they were informed of how much the study needed early this year, fundraising became more intentional.

She said donations have come in from all over the community from local sorority chapters to corporate sponsorships.

“Studies like these are needed,” Cooper said.

The study will provide the foundation for future legislation to curb the racial disparities Black people in Colorado face. Ricks explained the net is wide when it comes to differences in equal opportunities.

“Whether it’s education, whether it’s finance, whether it’s criminal justice,” Ricks listed off. 

Ricks also talked about homeownership and health disparities the study focuses on. She said the study only begins the important work of making Colorado a place where all feel accepted and appreciated.

“The study is not going to change everything,” Ricks said. “What’s going to happen is that we need to use the results of the study, now, to create policy. So, we have to stay vigilant. We have to stay on the state and make sure that there are policies. As a lawmaker and then also people from our community, we cannot sleep. We must stay awake and continue to fight this fight because it’s not over with. We’re still in the battle.”

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Study looks at impacts of systemic racism in Colorado

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