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Hillsborough County Commissioners declare racism a public health crisis

The resolution is driven by the idea that being healthy is more about genetics and that the conditions of one's life is reliant on the conditions of our daily lives.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County Commissioners adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis Wednesday, outlining a 10-point action plan for change.

The resolution was put before the board by Commissioner Pat Kemp, Bible Based Community Church community and other community members and faith leaders: "Our Community, Our Voice." 

The document both acknowledges the public health consequences of racial inequities and seeks "to imagine and create a more equal and just Hillsborough County." It was sent to county commissioners with 193 signatures of support. 

"This resolution is about racism and public health and it speaks to an urgent issue at this time and here in Hillsborough County," Kemp said. "The historic and present racial inequities that exist in our areas of health, safety and well being."

A driving force behind the resolution is the idea that being healthy is more about genetics and that the conditions of one's life is reliant on the conditions of our daily lives.

Here is a look into the goals of the resolution: (you can read the full document here)

  • Promote equity through all policies and assert racism is a public health crisis.
  • Enhance educational efforts aimed at understanding, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety.
  • Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live.
  • Encourage racial equity training among all community partners, grantees, vendors and contractors.
  • Continue to advocate locally and nationally for relevant policies that improve health in Black communities

"Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners stands with the residents of Hillsborough County with the declaration of racism as a public health crisis and acknowledge that all lives will matter in America only when there is recognition and affirmation that 'Black Lives Matter,'" the resolution concludes.

Chairman Les Miller spoke on how racism inhibits Black communities from accessing public resources, putting them at a disadvantage. He also touched on his own personal experience with racism in our community.

“I was racially profiled as late as a year and a half ago. I’m a county commissioner, chair of the county commission, on the back of my car there’s a license plate that says retired State Senate and the Hillsborough County Sheriff one night pulled my wife and I over. We were coming from a function," Miller said.

“Got out the car, shining his light into my car, all through the back seats and wanted to know where I was coming from or where I was going that time of night," he continued.

The resolution was unanimously approved by the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners 5-0.

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