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Letter: Rep. Wilcox mum on racial disparity questions

Jan 20, 2022

I spent the morning of Martin Luther King day reflecting on his life and accomplishments by listening to the “Community Spread” podcast, where a local black poet, Schkyra Mourning, read Dr. King’s famous letter from a Birmingham jail. Scrolling through social media that day, I saw many quotes from the letter on my feed along with quotes from his other famous speeches.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

That last quote was posted by state Rep. Ryan Wilcox. Given the day and context of the quote, I felt it appropriate to ask Wilcox, “As an elected state lawmaker, what are you doing to close the racial equality gaps in health, wealth and education in this state?”

A recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Utah has the third largest minority wage gap among all states. A report from the Utah Department of Health found racial and ethnic health disparities exist in 71% of the state’s health and public wellbeing measures, and a disproportionate number of Utahns in minority communities aren’t getting the health care they need. The United Health Foundation found that Utah ranks in the bottom half of the country in high school graduation racial disparity.

Given Utah’s current racial disparities in health, wealth and education, I was surprised when Rep. Wilcox not only refused to respond to my comment, but deleted it … twice. To Rep. Wilcox, if you are going to invoke Dr. King, you should have an answer to a question as straightforward as, “What are you doing to close the racial equality gaps in health, wealth and education in this state?” I’d like to invite you again to answer, “What are you doing for others?” in terms of racial disparities for Utahns.

Kevin Lundell

Ogden

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