The Hope For Milwaukee & Their New Policy
Header Photo: "Milwaukee City Urban Skyline."
Milwaukee County Executives decided to combat racism in a unique way that was announced in 2019. The decision the county executives made was to declare racism a public health crisis. When this ordinance was made, they comprised a plan with five points they wanted to focus on to transform the services provided in Milwaukee, so it benefits them all, these five areas were:
Build a more diverse and inclusive workforce in which employees reflect the diversity of the community at all levels and where differences are welcomed and valued.
Ensure a diverse array of Milwaukee County employees at all levels are involved in designing equitable programs and services that meet the needs of the community.
Design Milwaukee County services to meet residents’ needs, rather than asking residents to fit their needs into existing Milwaukee County services.
Track and analyze data to better understand the impact of County services and find solutions accordingly.
Generate new sources of revenue and implement additional efficiencies to address the structural deficit and make needed investments that advance racial equity (“Milwaukee County Passes Ordinance to Advance Racial Equity and Improve Health Outcomes.”).
But, since implementing this ordinance 3 years ago, what has changed since?
Others Follow Suit
When Milwaukee declared racism a public health crisis, they were the first to have done so. Since declaring racism a public health crisis, 170 jurisdictions have done the same. Four of these jurisdictions being in Wisconsin (Ban, Charlie. “Counties Put Racism in a Public Health Spotlight.”).
According to Captial B News, a local run Black news site, it is hard to tell what has been changed and what will be changed as they are working against 400years of racism and segregation. A American Public Health Associate, Davis Moss had stated; "we need to talk about promoting healing if we want to make meaningful progress towards equity, there’s deep division and there’s trauma in a lot of these places" (Snipe, Margo. “What Happens after Your Town Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis?”). Though they believe it is hard to see what has been improved on since the declaration, they believe it gives a sense of accountability towards the change that is needed.
With Milwaukee having the largest county government in Wisconsin, they hope they are able to directly improve policies outcomes for the county personal. In 2020, they were able to provide 4,000 county personnel with racial equity training (Ban, Charlie. “Counties Put Racism in a Public Health Spotlight.”).
When considering why Milwaukee County Executives decided to declare racism a public health crisis, it is clear there is a lot of systematic level racism that needs to be undone. A singular policy that has only grown with us that is aimed at the destruction of something as big as systematic racism, that has only grown with us as a county and state can not do it all by itself. There are a lot more policies that need to be undone and implemented before real change can be seen. My hope for Milwaukee County, is that more progression is made, and more policies are implemented to help radicate a positive change. The growth of Milwaukee County is still taking place, and my hope is that this is a continuum of abolishing the amount of systematic racism found not only in Milwaukee County, but the state of Wisconsin. When researching this issue, there were no expectations of huge change within this short period of time. Considering the change this policy could have on Milwaukee County, I look to the future of where this policy could go and the doors it can open over time.
Rozga, "March on Milwaukee."