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Washtenaw County declares racism as public health crisis

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Posted at 2:05 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 14:05:49-04

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Washtenaw County Board of Health passed a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis.

“We know that racism has helped drive unequal economic, cultural, and medical circumstances that each, and in concert, lead to poorer health outcomes for people of color throughout America,” James J. Carty, Chair of the Board of Health, said in a press release. “The only way to change this is to acknowledge it and center it as we try to learn from the mistakes of our past and build a better community where all residents of Washtenaw County are served fairly and equally.”

The Board of Health met virtually on Friday, June 26 and agreed to take immediate action though a resolution. The resolution was finalized yesterday, stating racism is a public health crisis that “harms, kills and prevents individuals and communities from living healthy lives."

The board resolved to support the dedication of Health Department resources to deepen its work in solidarity with social movements for racial justice – and to work in partnership with community members, organizations and leaders who are engaged in anti-racist action, addressing community-defined problems and using community-driven solutions to commit to real transformation.

An annual review and assessment of progress towards strategic goals, internal policies, procedures, practices, and budget allocations for their impact on racial equity, diversity and inclusion is also a part of the Board of Health’s commitment.

Read the full resolution naming racism as a public health crisis.

“This declaration and commitment to health equity – as well as the expected action from the Board of Commissioners are critical to our ability to move forward together,” says Felicia Brabec, PsyD, MSW, who sits on both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Health for Washtenaw County. “Naming racism and truly working together are vital steps, but we must commit to doing more. We must show our commitment at every level, put resources behind our intentions and work collectively to see meaningful and lasting change.”