By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution on Tuesday declaring racism a public health crisis becoming the first county in California to do so.
The Board also directed County staff to form a new Equity Element Group of the Countywide Vision project to promote and increase equity in San Bernardino County. Once formed, the Equity Element Group would be comprised of community members and experts in healthcare, education, economic development, law and justice, and other fields to create a path toward promoting and increasing equity within the county.
The issue of racism as a public health crisis came to the forefront following the global response to the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the impact of COVID-19 on the Black community and discussions with local community advocates.
The resolution states that racism results in disparities in family stability, health and mental wellness, education, employment, economic development, public safety, criminal justice and housing.
-The infant mortality rate within San Bernardino County’s Black population is more than double the rate for the County as a whole.
-Black people account for less than 9 percent of the County’s population but almost 19 percent of County jail bookings and 38 percent of the bookings into County juvenile detention facilities;
More than 21 percent of the County’s homeless population is Black.
-The Black homeownership rate in San Bernardino County is less than 43 percent but stands at 60 percent for the County as a whole.
-In San Bernardino County, only 17 percent of Black students compared to more than 31 percent of all students are proficient in math and less than 35 percent of Black students compared to
almost 45 percent of all students are proficient in English/Language Arts.
-The college and career readiness rate is 44 percent for all students but is only 30 percent for Black students; Meanwhile, suspension and expulsion rates for Black students
are more than twice the respective rates for all students.
The County will actively participate in the dismantling of racism by:
-Collaborating with the County’s law and justice agencies and the community to ensure public confidence that public safety is administered equitably by ensuring that meaningful discussions
are conducted by the Equity Element Group on identifying mechanisms for researching and addressing public concerns related to law enforcement performance within San Bernardino
-Promoting equity through policies to be considered by the Board of Supervisors and enhancing meaningful, thoughtful, and data-driven education efforts aimed at understanding, addressing, and dismantling racism, and how racism affects public health, family stability, early education, economic development, public safety, and the delivery of human services.
-Identifying specific activities to enhance diversity within the County Government workforce.
-Advocating through the California State Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties for relevant policies that improve health outcomes in communities of color, and
supporting local, regional, state, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism.
-Building and strengthening alliances with other organizations that are confronting racism, and encouraging other agencies to recognize racism as a crisis, including considering County
membership in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), which is a national network of local government agencies working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all.
-Supporting community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engaging actively and authentically with communities of color throughout our County.
-Studying and evaluating existing County policies and practices through a lens of racial equity to promote and support policies that prioritize health in an equitable way, especially for people of color, by mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experiences.
-Encouraging each of the twenty-four incorporated cities and towns within San Bernardino County to also adopt resolutions affirming that racism is a public health crisis that results in disparities.