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Riverside County Board of Supervisors declare racism as a public health crisis

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed today that that racism is a public health crisis and vowed to take steps to deal with the issue.

The supervisors voted 5-0 after hearing from several community members who supported the resolution, which indicated that “systemic racism causes persistent racial discrimination in housing, education, employment, transportation, and criminal justice.”

Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington said the time to address health disparities is long overdue. “America is blessed with incredible diversity that makes us unique and is one of our strengths. But systemic racism in our country continues to limit opportunities for communities of color in ways that damage physical and mental health even across generations.”

Among the planned actions in the resolution, supervisors agreed to seek more diversity in the county’s workforce and in leadership positions, implement solutions to eliminate systemic inequality in all external services provided by the county, and enhance public education to increase understanding and awareness of systemic inequality and its impact.

In a separate agenda item, the board voted 5-0 hold workshops, including listening sessions with the community and meetings among the board and county department heads. The workshops will focus on county services and budget priorities, including public safety, behavioral health, and social services.

“In the spirit of civil rights giant, Congressman John Lewis, I am proud of today’s historical vote within Riverside County to advance social justice, equity, and community empowerment,” said Board Chair V. Manuel Perez. “Today, we passed two major efforts to fight racism and have listening sessions to look at how we fund and re-fund safety net services and meet the social needs of our communities.”

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