‘Not just words on paper’: Youngstown City Council declares racism public health crisis

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Councilman Julius Oliver said once we acknowledge racism exists, current policies can change

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council unanimously passed a resolution Friday declaring racism a public health crisis.

“It’s not just words on paper. It’s not just feel-good. We need to make these our benchmarks,” Councilwoman Anita Davis said.

“In every social disparity category that you can think of, African Americans or Black and brown people are at number one,” Councilman Julius Oliver said.

He said more people of color are in prison, lack adequate education, lack adequate health care, lack access to wealth and are more prone to what Oliver called “police genocide.”

Oliver said once we acknowledge racism exists, current policies can change.

“Now that I see those policies, we can start to peel them back so that they have a fair chance to have a leg up in life.”

“I think it’s symbolic in that it’s a first step in a change that is going to be coming, but it is just the first step,” Councilwoman Basia Adamczak said. “Now what is on paper, we have to take action steps and continue forward, and actually put legislation in place.”

Councilwoman Samantha Turner read the names of 45 companies and individuals who supported council decisions.

“Our next step would be to focus heavy on public health because one of the big disparities that we have is infant mortality,” she said. “Our public health department has been working on that little by little by little, but it’s time to make a huge push.”

Oliver hopes the next step is for people to get to know each other better — both black and white, both suburb and city residents — and he hopes that happens soon.

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