Jackson, MI — Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies was joined by City Councilman Freddie Dancy in announcing the introduction of a package of ordinances aimed at building racial equity in the City of Jackson. The ordinances will create a Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, codify the position of a Chief Equity Officer, and create a Racial Equity Commission.
“Racism is alive and well — people like me see it every day. Populations in Jackson have dealt with the discrimination and inequity that systemic racism spreads for generations,” said City Councilman Freddie DANCY. “Racism is a public health crisis that we are setting out to cure.”
Dancy said, if adopted by City Council, it is likely to be the first codified Racial Equity Commission in the State of Michigan. He said it’s along the first of many steps they will take to address racism head on.
“Addressing racial inequities is uncomfortable to some because it means intentionally confronting the injustice of previous generations that created inescapable cycles,” said Mayor Derek DOBIES. “We have a moral obligation to make sure young Black kids growing up have a system built to give them the same access to opportunity that many of us take for granted.”
Dobies said that there are plenty of examples of how explicit and implicit bias have affected livelihood and opportunities for Black families including redlining, deed restrictions, and access to employment opportunities. Dobies said in the last few weeks, the city has taken numerous actions to address racism and systemic bias in our community:
- Mayor Dobies signed an 8 Can’t Wait Pledge and an Obama Mayor’s Pledge to review police use of force policy, engage the Jackson community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories, report those findings for review and feedback in the community, and reform police use of force policies.
- Council passed a Resolution declaring Racism as Public Health Crisis and the City Council urged other governmental bodies to declare racism as a public health crisis.
- City Council publicly committed to advocate for policies that improve health in the Black community and support similar initiatives from other government entities.
- City Council directed the City of Jackson Human Relations Commission to work with the community to identify specific activities to increase diversity and incorporate anti-racism principles in City government.
- The City will support ongoing racial equity training for leadership and staff.
Dobies said he began working to write these new ordinances after listening to, and consulting with, Kesha Hamilton and individuals from the George Floyd protests and the activists at the Black Lives Matter mural paintings.
“Systemic racism has been embedded in America since its inception and it has now run its course. We propose serious and intentional change and are committed to the work required to create genuine and equitable opportunities for the Black community.” said Kesha HAMILTON, local civil rights activist, diversity equity & inclusion specialist, and candidate for the JPS School Board. “We’re thankful the City of Jackson has taken this initiative and we appreciate the work Mayor Dobies and Councilman Dancy have put in to begin the process of true systems change.”
Dobies and Dancy said they plan to introduce the package of ordinances at the August 11, 2020 City Council meeting.
Copies of the proposed ordinances are linked here.