Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

Racism is a Public Health Crisis

August 5, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared racism a Public Health Crisis. We demand Dearborn's city officials to adopt this same resolution at the city level, allowing city resources to be more readily diverted to addressing injustice. This language includes "Racism is a social system with multiple dimensions, including individual racism, which is internalized and interpersonal, and systemic racism, which is institutional or structural. Both institutional and systemic racism harm individuals and communities and deplete the strength of a whole society through the waste of human resources."

The full text of the Governor's order includes actionable items for state agencies to address racism as a public health crisis including data and analysis; policy and planning; engagement, communication, and advocacy; and training. Each of these elements are required to address racist policies, structured, and procedures in Dearborn.

Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis in Dearborn

We have submitted the following language to be adopted by the city:

RESOLUTON “Racism as a Public Health Crisis”

WHEREAS, race is a social construct with no biological basis; and

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is internalized or interpersonal; systemic racism that is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks; and

WHEREAS, racism is rooted in the foundation of America, beginning with chattel slavery in 1619; much of the Black experience in America has been endured under slavery and Jim Crow. Racism has remained present in American Society and allows preferential opportunities for some while subjecting people of color to hardships and disadvantages in every area of life; and

WHEREAS, systemic racism unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and depletes the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources; and

WHEREAS, racism has existed in America for more than 400 years - we now are witnessing a coronavirus pandemic which is shining a stark light upon the long-running racial divide - Black patients are dying in larger-than-expected, record numbers. COVID-19 is killing Black people at 2.4 times the rate of white people and Black people are disproportionately suffering in-part due to long standing, unaddressed health disparities as well as systematic racism and other socioeconomic inequities; and

WHEREAS, there is clear data to illustrate that racism negatively impacts the lives of Black people in the City of Dearborn - the current COVID- 19 crisis has helped to highlight now, more than ever, that racism, not race, causes disproportionately higher rates of homelessness, incarceration, and economic hardships for African Americans - racism can be seen across systemic, institutional and interpersonal levels - all operating over the course of time and across generations; and

WHEREAS, the negative repercussions of historical racism, including but not limited to discriminatory lending practices of the 20th century known as “redlining” and the current limitations and access to healthy, nutritious food, reduced life expectancy, increased rates of lead poisoning, limited access to clean water, and higher rates of infant mortality demonstrate the current impact of racism; and

WHEREAS, the members of Dearborn City Council steadfastly support the efforts that focus on improving the quality of life and equity for each resident - ongoing support for Small and Minority Businesses and the City’s work to implement the recommendations of the Disparity Study, fair housing support, efforts to curb eviction which disproportionately impacts people of color, ongoing support for economic development and the environment, support for working families and increasing economic opportunities, supporting veterans and safe communities; and

WHEREAS, the privileges that other Americans experience often inhibit them from fully understanding how racism impacts Black people in America - for example the performance of simple tasks like driving while Black, walking/running in neighborhoods, wearing a hoodie, going to the store, eating ice cream in your own home, or just going to a park all come with certain risk not experienced by others. Concerned parents prepare their Black youth at an early age by having “The Talk” with their children in order to attempt to protect them; and

WHEREAS life events like getting a job, purchasing a home, buying a car, or just raising a family come with barriers that other cultures don’t experience; and

WHEREAS, the members of Dearborn City Council support the recent Michigan State resolution drafted declaring “Racism as a Public Health Crisis;” because we recognize that racism is real and as a community we have to work together to promote equity and eradicate racism - moreover this Council believes that it is now time to declare racism a public health crisis in our community; because the disparities that we have outlined represent a public health crisis which affects us all, and we as a civil society have an obligation to raise awareness and make sure that every sector of our society work to reverse this crisis; and

WHEREAS, this Council urges every sector of our society to declare these disparities as a public health crisis and to immediately take steps to address, fund, and support areas that strategically reduce the long-term impact of the Social Determinants of Health for at risk communities - this includes reducing and eliminating preferential treatment for the majority while subjecting people of color to increased hardships; and

WHEREAS, we as a governmental body have a responsibility to ensure an optimal quality of life for all of our Black City of Dearborn residents; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Dearborn City Council hereby declares racism as a public health crisis in the City of Dearborn that affects all members of our society on a local, state, and national level and demands action from all levels of government and society; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City of Dearborn commits its full attention to improving the quality of life and health of our minority residents.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City of Dearborn Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee will engage residents, businesses and nonprofits to achieve community-centered solutions that address the legacy of racial injustices faced by Black communities, and identify specific activities to increase diversity and to incorporate anti-racism principles across membership, leadership, staffing and contracting in the City of Dearborn; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City of Dearborn is committed to honestly and directly addressing minority health inequities, including a systematic, data-driven focus on poverty, economic mobility, and other factors that impact the social determinants of health. Minorities are impacted more greatly by challenges and inequities in many areas, including but not limited to Crime, Social Capital, Education, Transportation, Employment, Food Access, Health Behaviors, Socioeconomic Status, Environmental Exposure, Access to Health Services, Housing, and Public Safety.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Dearborn City Council request that the City Clerk is asked to forward copies of this resolution to: Michigan Municipal League, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Michigan Senator Sylvia Santana, Michigan Senator Betty Jean Alexander, Michigan State Representative Abdullah Hammoud, Michigan State Representative Karen Whitsett, Michigan State Representative Jewell Jones and Michigan State Representative Frank Liberati.

Learn more about our other demands: