LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a new order and directive to address racism and to expand training for state employees.
Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-163 establishes a new government panel to advise her on the treatment of Black Michiganders.
“This pandemic has confirmed and highlighted the deadly nature of these preexisting inequities caused by systemic racism,” Whitmer said.
Her solution is the creation of the Black Leadership Advisory Council within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. Its job is to find policy and pathways to opportunities for Black Michiganders. The council will consist of 16 voting members representing Black leadership in economics, public policy, health and wellness, technology, the environment, agriculture, arts and culture and more.
“COVID-19 is more than four times as likely to take the life of one Black Michigander than a white one and this reflects, longstanding, deep societal economic and environmental disparities,” Whitmer said.
The governor also signed Executive Directive 2020-9, recognizing racism as a public health crisis and taking initial steps to address it within state government. Under the Executive Directive, the governor asked MDHHS to make health equity a major goal, as well as required implicit bias training for all state employees.
She said state employees, including herself, need to undergo implicit bias training to come to terms with their upbringings.
“This is not alleging people are racist, it’s recognizing that everyone had biases from where we grew up and how we were raised,” Whitmer said. “It’s just a fact and it’s why we’ve got to acknowledge it and seek to address it.”
She said she believes it would build a more just and equitable Michigan.
“We have a lot of work to do to eradicate the systemic racism that Black Americans have faced for generations,” Whitmer said. “It’s going to take time but the most important thing we can do during this time is work closely with leaders across the state in every community to find the root cause of problems and try to eradicate them.”
Whitmer is soliciting members for the Black Leaders Advisory Council. You can apply online here.