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Whitmer declares racism a state “public health crisis”

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

An executive directive signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer declares racism a public health crisis in Michigan.

The directive creates a Black Leadership Advisory Council to identify resources within the executive branch to attack the problem of systemic racism, especially when it comes to health care.

The council will be lead by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. He says the council will identify ways that bias contributes to health disparities.

“However, it is not enough to simply label an injustice. We have to actively take steps to replace injustice with justice,” he says.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is the state's Chief Medical Executive. She says communities of color are disproportionately affected by many preventable health conditions.

“Whether it’s cancer mortality, heart disease, diabetes, maternal mortality, infant mortality, and, now, COVID-19. The statistics are staggering,” says Dr. Khaldun. 

The directive requires every executive branch employee to take training to help recognize and erase implicit bias – including Whitmer herself.

The directive does not require legislative approval.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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