Be it resolve: racism is a health crisis – DeKalb County’s Board of Commissioners has officially agreed.
What We Know:
- Led by representative Larry Johnson, the county Board of Commissioners passed the resolution in a meeting last week – during which they also declared Juneteenth a paid county holiday.
- The document, cosponsored by The DeKalb Board of Health and district health director, Dr.Elizabeth Ford, states the ways racism produces observable, negative health affects, particularly for Black people, and states that Black residents have both been hospitalized and died at higher rates from COVID-19. A list of 10 goals and policies the county is resolved to pursue is highlighted; the first being “assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire county”.
- It has been backed by the DeKalb NAACP, which describes it as a “catalyst for other authorities to look at racism in a different light,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
- This comes while public health officials such as the American Public Health Association, universities like Harvard and Emory, and countless scientific studies are publicly making the argument that racism is, in fact, killing Black Americans.
- Other states, counties, and cities have taken similar actions with Milwaukee County (WI) being the first in the country to declare the health crisis last spring. The State of Georgia, in late June, passed the Hate Crimes Bill (SB 166) which allows judges to increase sentences for defendants that target victims based on perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.
- The resolve calls on the Georgia Governor, Speaker of the House, and State Senate to make the declaration of the health crisis and “to enact equity in all policies of the State of Georgia”.
DeKalb County, along with other municipalities, are sparking both conversations and systemic changes. These changes can not be done overnight but resolves such as this are a start.