At their virtual meeting on Tuesday, June 16, the Jackson City Council unanimously approved a resolution that declares racism a public health crisis, and lays out ways to dismantle systematic racism in Jackson.
The resolution, titled Declaration of Racism as a Public Health Crisis, recognizes the systemic racism that African Americans have faced in the United States and the City of Jackson over the decades. It also highlights the ways systemic racism impacts the health and quality of life of Black residents, such as higher COVID-19 rates, infant mortality rates, inadequate access to health care, and poor health outcomes.
- Methods to combat systemic racism were laid out in the resolution. They are as follows:
- The City Council advocates for policies that improve health in the Black community and supports similar initiatives from other government entities.
- The City will assess ordinances, policies, and procedures to ensure racial equity is a core element of our government.
- The City of Jackson Human Relations Commission will work with the community to identify specific activities to increase diversity and incorporate anti-racism principles in City government.
- The City will support ongoing racial equity training for leadership and staff.
- The City Council urges other governmental bodies to declare racism as a public health crisis.
The resolution was brought before the council for consideration by Mayor Derek Dobies and Vice Mayor Arlene Robinson. “Racism is all too real in our community, and you don’t have to look too hard to see the damage that it does to the public health,” said Vice Mayor Robinson. Mayor Dobies says it’s important the City take action during this time. “We’re the first city in the state to have a Black Lives Matter mural painted across a street because people in our City have strong voices and they want to be heard,” said Mayor Dobies. “We owe it to past and future generations to make meaningful changes in policy and procedure and that can start with admitting that racism is a public health crisis in Jackson.”
Also at the meeting, the City Council voted to support a second Black Lives Matter mural that will be painted on W. Washington Avenue in Downtown Jackson on Friday, June 19.