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Grand Rapids city leaders vote to declare racism a public health crisis

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The resolution carried unanimously during Tuesday morning's city commission meeting. Final approval on the decision is slated for Tuesday evening.

Grand Rapids city leaders have voted to declare racism as a public health crisis. The resolution, which calls for local leaders to help dismantle racism and apply a public health framework, carried unanimously during Tuesday morning's city commission meeting. Final approval on the decision is slated for Tuesday evening.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said she hopes the city and its partners can create a new reality moving forward.

“We all know that our city has experienced inequities across racialized lines for many years...and that these inequities have been amplified, especially during the pandemic over this past year and a half. So I believe framing racism as a public health crisis creates a call to action,” Bliss said.

The initial proposal came from the city’s department of Equity and Engagement earlier this month by director Stacy Stout. In a recent Kent County Community Health Needs Assessment, 63% of Black and 51% of Latino people surveyed said racism was a frequent or constant source of stress, compared to 17% of white respondents.

Tuesday both Bliss and City Commissioner Milinda Ysasi thanked Stout for her work, adding that there’s a long commitment ahead.

“I want to thank Ms. Stout for making sure that this resolution will never be a name only…that we will continue to put our efforts, our budget items forward,” Ysasi said.

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