Whitmer declares racism as public health crisis; announces advisory council

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and an interpreter during her August 5, 2020, press conference.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and an interpreter during her August 5, 2020, press conference.(WLUC)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:52 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared racism as a public health crisis in Michigan.

In response, she announced several steps to recognize racism and take steps to address within state government agencies. That includes a requirement for all state employees to complete implicit bias training to help them recognize the racism they may not notice.

Whitmer also announced the new Black Leadership Advisory Council.

“Since I was sworn in as governor, I have made it a top priority to include more people of color, more women, and more members of the LGBTQ+ community at the table,” Whitmer said. “We’ve been able to build a more inclusive state government, but there is more work to do. That’s why today, I am proud to create the Black Leadership Advisory Council of Michigan.”

The Black Leadership Advisory Council will help Whitmer develop, review and recommend policies that would eradicate racism from Michigan. Specific responsibilities for the council include:

  • Identifying laws or gaps in laws that perpetuate inequities so they can promote economic equity for the Black community.
  • Collaborate with Whitmer’s office to fix structural inequities in Michigan.
  • Work as a resource for community groups to seek racial equity within state government and advance interests of the Black community.
  • Promote cultural arts within Michigan’s Black community.

“These actions outlined today by Governor Whitmer will have a transformative impact on our state. We are blessed to have a governor who is willing to hear us, march with us, and use her office to build a better, more equal world,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.

Whitmer said the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the Black community in Michigan demonstrates the racial inequities around the state, including in the health care system. The rate of confirmed coronavirus cases is more than three times higher for Blacks in Michigan than for White residents.

“We must confront systemic racism head on so we can create a more equitable and just Michigan,” she said. “This is not about one party or person. I hope we can continue to work towards building a more inclusive and unbiased state that works for everyone.”

Click here to apply for a position on the Black Leadership Advisory Council and select “Black Leaders Advisory Council” from the drop down menu.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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