Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research
Dr. Kent Key Lobbied for Resolution
At its regularly scheduled meeting on June 10th, the Genesee County Commission passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. This followed the Genesee County Board of Heath voting in favor of the resolution on June 3rd and the Flint City Council’s resolution on June 1st. Dr. Kent Key, a Flint native, faculty at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, and Executive Deputy Director of Community Based Organization Partners co-wrote the resolution and actively lobbied to get it passed. Dr. Key is also faculty of the Michigan Center for Urban African America Aging Research, and a co-lead of the Community Liaison and Recruitment Core of MCUAAAR.
Racial disparities in vulnerability to the coronavirus and the outcomes of the disease (African Americans and Hispanics have worse outcomes and die at drastically higher rates), have once again highlighted a pattern of health disparities that have been documented for decades. In addition, on the heels of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, city, county, and even state governments across the country are passing resolutions declaring racism as a public health crisis. These resolutions are an important first step, but this acknowledgment must come with resources to actually address the structural and institutional racism in the access to care and the quality of health care, which in turn results in increased morbidity and mortality for racial and ethnic minorities.
The Genesee County resolution, calls for, among other things:
- An assessment of internal policies and procedures to ensure racial equity is a core element of the Board of Commissioners and all Genesee County departments and offices;
- The creation of an equity and justice-oriented organization with the Board and its Committees identifying specific activities to increase diversity and incorporating anti-racism principles across Board membership, leadership, staffing, and contracting;
- A workplan of educational efforts to address and dismantle racism, expand members’ understanding of racism and how racism affects individual and population health;
- Policies that improve health in communities of color and support local, state, and federal initiatives that advance social justice, while also encouraging individual member advocacy to dismantle systemic racism;
- Working to build alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourages other local, state, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis.
The resolution also notes that the Board of Commissioners will have to allocate adequate financial resources within its budget to accomplish these activities.