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County Executive Chris Abele declares racism a public health crisis

Posted at 12:09 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 13:09:48-04

County Executive Chris Abele joined county supervisors and the Office on African American Affairs in signing the resolution to declare racism a public health crisis.

The new resolution works to continue efforts to ensure racial equity is part of the public discourse and decision-making processes.

"Racism is a public health crisis, and we have a moral imperative to put our indifference aside in the face of injustice," said Abele in a news release. "The measures we are taking will ensure every resident in every neighborhood benefits."

The resolution was introduced by Abele and Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson. Supervisors Supreme Moore Omokunde and Deanna Alexander are co-sponsors.

With the new measure, the county will be held to:

  • Assess internal policies and procedures to make sure racial equity is a core element
  • Work to create an inclusive organization and identify specific activities to increase diversity
  • Incorporate inclusion and equity, and offer educational training to expand employees' understanding of how racism affects people
  • Advocate for policies that improve health in communities of color
  • Encourage other local, state and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis

Racism has been linked to a number of problems across the country including health concerns such as high infant and maternal mortality rates in African Americans.

By 2019. the OAAA will train more than 5,500 employees in racial equity.

"Racial equity is not an issue that we will solve in one day or one year," said Nicole Brookshire, the director of the Office on African American Affairs. "We are taking small steps, having big conversations and implementing vital measures to address the problem head-on and move toward a more equitable Milwaukee."

Milwaukee County is also working with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity to train county employees on racial equity and create a Racial Equity Plan.