City and county leaders ready to declare racism as a public health crisis

City of Charlotte considers declaring racism a public health crisis

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham said he is ready for the city to proclaim that racism is a public health crisis in Charlotte.

“This is a defining moment in our country’s history,” Graham said. “That I think we have to make a stand against racism and all its forms whether it’s racism in police departments, health care systems, educational systems - employment opportunities.”

Graham would like to see a proclamation completed soon.

He said it will be done by the mayor or full council.

Graham believes having a proclamation discussing racism holds city leaders accountable and forces them to consider race when making decisions.

“I think the people want us to follow those statements with action,” Graham said. “I am certainly willing to put my vote where my words are.”

Mecklenburg County is also ready to declare racism as a public health crisis.

County commissioners could approve their proclamation Tuesday night.

The proposed proclamation is direct.

It mentions how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the African American community and how the justice system is sometimes not kind toward African Americans.

Graham believes healthcare is an issue that hurts African Americans and a lack of employment opportunities.

“Making sure that our workforce reflects our community as a whole,” Graham said. “Making sure we work with our delegation to say that we want healthcare for all - Medicaid expansion.”

The county’s proposed proclamation states “Racism unfairly disadvantages Black and Brown individuals and communities, while unfairly giving advantages to other individuals and communities.”

Many hope the language is strong enough that it will make a difference.

The proposed proclamation also states the difference in having a proclamation could make.

“Looking at racism in this way offers legislators, health officials, and others an opportunity to analyze data and discuss how to dismantle or change problematic institutions.”

County Commissioner Mark Jerrell hopes this proclamation passes in a unanimous vote. He thinks the proclamation is needed.

“We got to put some teeth behind it,” County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said. “But it gives us the framework and backdrop to work off of.”

The Pew Charitable Trust reports that so far there are more than 20 cities and counties and three states that have declared racism as a public health crisis.

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