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Perspective: Action needed to address systemic racism

Several Dayton-area leaders were named as supporters of a Senate resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. Elevate Dayton is publishing the opinions, perspectives and analysis of the Dayton leaders in a series. The Board of Montgomery County Commissioners expand on how they are taking action and investing resources to make the community more equitable.

Prepared on behalf of the Board of Montgomery County Commissioners

Racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, economic opportunity, infant mortality, employment, food access and criminal justice.

This should not be a controversial statement.

Public health experts have long identified racism as a root cause of poverty and overall poor health outcomes. We know that our Black community experiences poorer health outcomes and higher infant mortality, which is an extremely important measure of overall community health and well-being. In fact, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County released a health disparity study in 2018 and confirmed what we already know to be true: Black people in Montgomery County experience more psychosocial and structural inequalities and inequities than their white counterparts.

Montgomery County wanted to make it explicitly clear that we are against racism and inequality in any form, which is why we passed a formal resolution on June 16 declaring racism a public health crisis in our community.

It’s important to note that we made specific and measurable financial commitments in this resolution, and we also promised to track our progress and report back to the community. Here are some examples:

  • Development of a new stand-alone “Career and Innovation Center” at the Westown Shopping Center on West Third Street in Dayton

  • Commit existing and additional resources to “Micro-Enterprise” Grant Program targeted to small, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses

  • Funding for safe, affordable housing opportunities in the Black community

  • Continue to address food insecurity, nutrition and food access

  • Fund efforts to reduce infant mortality and increasing maternal vitality in the Black community

  • Provide greater access to local and diverse contracting, wherever possible and allowable under state law

  • Continue and expand the Male Leadership Academy, which was established as a pilot program in 2019, and establish a Female Leadership Academy to serve young women in the community

  • Continue already-existing racial equity and implicit bias training

In short: We’re going to put our money where our mouth is. We are committed to taking action and investing our resources to help our community become more equitable. The passage of this resolution is only the beginning, and we have charged our County Administrator and leadership team to provide progress on each commitment we have made in this resolution. We plan to have our first progress report by the end of the year, and we will share it with the community to facilitate ongoing engagement and transparency.

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