Health expert weighs in on racism being named public health crisis

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The head of the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute thinks Kent County should follow Kalamazoo County in labeling racism as a public health crisis.

Micah Foster, the executive director, says the first step on an individual level is for people to educate themselves.

Foster believes racism thrives on fear and lack of knowledge and communities need to use this time to become more informed.

From a systemic level, Foster says people need to take a look at institutionalized racism, how these systems were built, and understand they were not formed to benefit people of color.

However, in order to fight back against racism, he says everyone needs to get involved, and he’s glad Kalamazoo County is taking that first step.

“Racism affects every member of society, regardless of race or ethnicity, and frankly, I’m proud of the commissioners and acknowledging this and taking bold steps, and I hope the Michigan Legislature does the same,” said Foster.

As for what’s happening in Kent County, Grand Rapids commissioners say they don’t have any definite plans yet but are reaching out to voters to see if there’s an interest in labeling racism a public health crisis in the county as well.