Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive orders Wednesday that recognize racism as a public health threat in the state and create an advisory council of Black leaders to make health equity a major goal in Michigan.
Executive Order 2020-163, which forms the Black Leadership Advisory Council of Michigan, was based on legislation sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss. The council will be based in the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. It will act in an advisory capacity to the governor as well as develop, review and recommend policies and actions designed to eradicate and prevent discrimination and racial inequity in Michigan.
“This is the first advisory council of its kind focusing on African American issues in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “And I’m proud to work closely with leaders like those here today to build a more just and equitable state.”
The deadline to apply for the council is 5 p.m. Aug. 19. For more information, visit michigan.gov/appointments. Candidates should select Black Leadership Advisory Council from the drop-down menu on the application.
Whitmer also signed Executive Order 2020-9, which recognizes racism as a public health crisis and takes steps to address it within state government.
“This pandemic has confirmed and highlighted the deadly nature of these preexisting inequities caused by systemic racism,” Whitmer said. “COVID-19 is more than four times as likely to take the life of a Black Michigander than a white one. And this reflects long-standing deep societal economic and environmental disparities.
Part of the directive asks the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to make health equity a major goal, as well as requires implicit bias training for all state employees.
“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 and in every community to find the root cause of problems and work to eradicate them.”