Racism is Declared Public Health Crisis by Washtenaw County Board of Health

The Washtenaw County Board of Health has named Racism as a Public Health Crisis. The Board of Health passed a resolution declaring the health crisis and confirming our collective commitment to health equality in Washtenaw County.

On Friday, June 26, the Board of Health met virtually for the first time since the pandemic began. The Board agreed on a resolution, which was finalized on June 30, to help fight against racism that’s rampant within the healthcare community. The resolution includes making real commitments that include sharing power, decision-making, and resources with community members and communities of color who are most impacted by the current 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,” says James J. Carty, Chair of the Board of Health. “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 plans to support the dedication of Health Department resources to strengthen its work with social justice movements for racial justice. They plan to work in partnership with community members, organizations, and leaders who are part of anti-racist action in Washtenaw County, addressing community-defined problems, and using community-driven solutions to commit to real transformation of our healthcare system. Additionally, an annual review and assessment of progress towards strategic goals, internal policies, procedures, practices, and budget allocation for their impact on racial equality, diversity, and inclusion is also a part of the Board of Health’s commitment. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is also expected to take action on racism as a public health crisis when they convene this week.

“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.”
You can read the entire resolution naming racism as a public health crisis here.

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