On Tuesday (Dec. 1), Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order that declared racism as a public health crisis in Louisville, Kentucky.
According to the mayor, several of the city’s “systems are more than broken” and need to “be dismantled and replaced.” He also said that the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot in her home by Louisville Metro Police officers, made the city a “focal point for America’s reckoning on racial justice.”
“For too many Louisvillians, racism is a fact of daily life, a fact that was created and documented in our country’s laws and institutional policies like segregation, redlining and urban renewal,” Fischer said. “Laws and policies that restrict the freedom of all Americans to exercise their constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Fischer’s proposal will ensure that every home has Wifi; close the Black pay gap, increase Black employees in managerial, professional and technical positions; boost minimum wages to a “living wage;” develop “behavioral health response teams” as an alternative or support to law enforcement and invest in homeowners who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“There is no going, quote, ‘back to normal,’” the mayor said. “The Louisville that we were in March wasn’t good enough, wasn’t equitable enough. Higher standards for equity must be the goal for every aspect of life in our city.”
Sadiqa Reynolds, the president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, says declaring racism a public health crisis was a first step, but now it’s time to start the “real work.”
“We don’t have the space to pretend like work is being done because people use good words,” Reynolds said. “It is urgent. It’s always been urgent. It is even more urgent now, because of the pandemic, because of the racial unrest, because people are really at their wits’ end. We can’t just give people something that makes them feel good, but doesn’t accomplish anything.”