Press Release: HHRC to Host Panel on Racism and Anti-Semitism Featuring State Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross

AUGUSTA – The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) is hosting a panel discussion on racism to discuss racial disparities highlighted by Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter protests in Maine and across the country. The panel discussion, titled Racism Is A Virus Too,  will take place on June 7th at 7pm via zoom and will feature State Representative Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland, HHRC Educators Erica Nadelhaft and Marpheen Chann, and HHRC Board Vice-President Tam Huynh as moderator. Those interested in attending must register on the HHRC website.

“Black lives matter, and it is important for Mainers to have tough conversations about anti-racism and what we, the people of Maine, stand for, especially as we celebrate our Bicentennial,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of HHRC. “As a society, we cannot afford to continue to ignore the inequities and injustices that continue to disproportionately impact black and brown people in Maine and across America.”

While Covid-19 does not discriminate based on race, black and brown Mainers are overrepresented in frontline and essential jobs and are less likely to have access to health care, child care and employment benefits such as paid family and sick leave. The most recent Maine CDC data revealed that despite making up only 1.6% of Maine’s population, black Mainers comprise more than 22% of Covid-19 cases in Maine. 

In addition, Black Lives Matter protests in Maine and the United States following the tragic death of George Floyd has sparked a national dialogue on police brutality and systemic racism. Data compiled by Mapping Police Violence shows that black people were 24% of those killed by police despite being only 13% of the population.

“Police brutality and systemic racism is a human rights issue,” said Marpheen Chann, educator for the HHRC and a panelist on Sunday.  “The HHRC is committed to having these tough conversations and educating and training Maine teachers and students on how to do the same.”

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