racism public health crisis
Photo via Shutterstock

After similar resolutions stalled in the State Senate and House, Michigan’s local communities are taking action to dismantle systemic racism.

LANSING, MI — Local leader Tina Talley was born and raised in Romulus. She attended the city’s public school system, graduated from Romulus High in 1985, and says she loves the city.

Talley’s 2017 grassroots campaign and election to Romulus’ City Council allowed her to usher in what she calls “the right move at the right time.”

Romulus joined other Michigan cities and counties this week in passing a resolution that declares racism a public health crisis. 

“What an ideal time to make a difference,” Talley told The ‘Gander. “If we don’t get on this opportunity right now, I don’t know when we’ll have another chance to make some change.”

The resolution passed unanimously, but Talley says she was worried about it not passing at all.

READ: Facial Recognition Got a Detroit Man Falsely Arrested. Now He Wants the Cops to Abandon It.

“I just didn’t know,” she said. “Even though our council is made up mostly of African Americans, we do have our Caucasian counterparts who are seeing the importance of addressing these issues now.”

Before Monday’s resolution, Romulus was already making strides toward racial equality and equity, according to Talley. Efforts by local organizations like the Romulus Ministerial Alliance and the police department were made to ensure access to resources and better communication between communities and law enforcement. 

Talley says that should continue to be the focus moving forward.

“We’re having discussions with the city and our senator [Erika Geiss] because even though we do things well, we can still always do things better to bridge those gaps of disparity.”

After the resolution passed, State Senator Sara Anthony offered her congratulations.

Great job Peter J. Spadafore Patricia Spitzley Brian T. Jackson Brandon Betz Carol Wood Adam Hussain Jeremy Garza & Kathie Dunbar. Thank you for your leadership tonight!

Posted by Sarah Anthony on Monday, June 22, 2020

State Lawmakers Inspire Change

State Senators Marshall Bullock and Erika Geiss drafted the original resolution for Michigan’s legislature that approached racism as a public health crisis.

“As legislators, we have the voices to speak about it and the power to introduce laws that could improve each aspect of life that systemic institutionalized racism touches: employment, healthcare, education, housing, criminal justice, and even policing/public safety,” Geiss told The ‘Gander

RELATED: Michigan Lawmakers Want to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis. Here’s What That Means.

State Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden says she proudly co-sponsored identical statewide legislation in the House. Both the House and Senate have failed to move forward in voting on the resolutions, despite lawmakers’ confidence that once brought to a vote they would pass.

Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson introduced a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis [in the House]. Unfortunately, there has been no hearing or action on this very important resolution,” she said in a statement. 

“I commend the municipalities that have taken this issue seriously and passed resolutions accordingly.”

Lansing and Ingham County have both presented and passed similar resolutions, thanks to state leadership’s introduction of public health crises in both the State Senate and House.

“I was so proud to be part of this effort. We hear you. We care. We can and must do better,” Lansing City Councilwoman Patricia Spitzley wrote on her Facebook page.

I was so proud to be part of this effort. We hear you. We care. We can and must do better.

Posted by Patricia Spitzley for Lansing on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The city’s mayor, Andy Schor, also chimed in with his support, saying, “Lansing will not accept racism, and I stand with our County Commission and with City Council who passed this last night.”

The City of Lansing has joined Ingham County in the declaration that racism is a public health crisis. Lansing will not…

Posted by Andy Schor on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Kalamazoo County also passed a resolution that declares racism a public health crisis, despite two dissenting votes. 

Senator Geiss’ commitment to equality throughout her district is evidenced by the resolutions passing throughout it and across the state.

Resolutions are not laws and do not change the way Michigan addresses racial inequities. Instead, resolutions are official declarations and acknowledgements of problems within the community. After a municipal or state body passes such resolutions, they are able to form committees and take other actions they deem necessary to actually address the problem identified.

Talley says she will continue to do all she can for Romulus and Michigan.

“I’m with her [Geiss]. If there’s something she needs from me to spread the word, I’m here. It’s time for action to further this cause.”

UP NEXT: Crisis Counselors and Guardians: Here’s What Michigan Activists Want to Fund With Police Budgets