This week, San Bernardino became the first county in California to adopt a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.
The issue of racism as a public health crisis came to the forefront following the global response to the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the impact of COVID-19 on the Black community and discussions with local community advocates.
The resolution states that racism results in disparities in family stability, health and mental wellness, education, employment, economic development, public safety, criminal justice and housing.
“Thanks to the partnership and support of several community members and organizations, my colleagues and I became the first county in California to declare racism as a public health crisis, and I sincerely hope we are not the last,” said Chairman Curt Hagman. “Through today’s action, we built a foundation for positive change throughout our County and encourage our 24 cities to join us.”
San Bernardino County statistics show:
- The infant mortality rate within our Black population is more than double the rate for the County as a whole.
- Black people account for less than 9 percent of our population but almost 19 percent of County jail bookings and 38 percent of the bookings into juvenile detention facilities.
- More than 21 percent of our homeless population is Black.
- Only 17 percent of the County’s Black students are proficient in math, compared to more than 31 percent of all students.
- The college and career readiness rate is 44 percent for all students but is only 30 percent for Black students; meanwhile, suspension and expulsion rates for Black students are more than twice the respective rates for all students.
The Board also directed County staff to form a new Equity Element Group to promote and increase equity. Once formed, the Equity Element Group would be comprised of community members and experts in healthcare, education, economic development, law and justice, and other fields to create a path toward promoting and increasing equity within the county.
“I urge everyone involved in this monumental opportunity for change to think big,” Supervisor Josie Gonzales said. “We want to bring all 24 of our cities on board. Let’s get everything we’ve got on the table and let’s make this new opportunity work.”
The County will actively participate in the dismantling of racism by:
- Collaborating with the County’s law and justice agencies and the community to address public concerns related to law enforcement performance within San Bernardino County.
- Promoting equity through policies to be considered by the Board of Supervisors and enhancing meaningful, thoughtful, and data-driven education efforts aimed at understanding, addressing, and dismantling racism.
- Identifying specific activities to enhance diversity within the County Government workforce.
- Advocating for relevant state and federal policies that improve health outcomes in communities of color.
- Building and strengthening alliances with other organizations that are confronting racism, and encouraging other agencies to recognize racism as a crisis.
- Supporting community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color throughout our County.
- Studying and evaluating existing County policies and practices through a lens of racial equity to promote and support policies that prioritize health in an equitable way by mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experiences.
- Encouraging each of the 24 incorporated cities and towns within San Bernardino County to also adopt resolutions affirming that racism is a public health crisis that results in disparities.
To read the resolution, click here.