Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued her 163rd executive order today (August 5th) to create a Black Leadership Advisory Council and also declared another public health crisis:  Racism.

Executive Directive 2020-9 states that racism is a public health crisis and takes initial steps to address it within state government.   As part of the directive, the governor asked MDHHS to require implicit bias training for all state employees.

Whitmer said she has made it a top priority to “include more people of color, more women, and more members of the LGBTQ+ community at the table. We’ve been able to build a more inclusive state government, but there is more work to do.”

In building her case, the Governor and her staff made COVID-19 a race issue, citing statistics comparing the effects of the pandemic on white and non-whites in Michigan.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, confirmed, and highlighted the deadly nature of pre-existing inequities caused by systemic racism. For example, in cases where race and ethnicity are known, the rate of reported COVID-19 cases for Black/African American Michigan residents is 14,703 per 1,000,000, compared with 4,160 per 1,000,000 for white residents, more than three times higher. And the rate of reported COVID-19 deaths for Black/African American Michigan residents is 1,624 per 1,000,000 compared with 399 per 1,000,000 for White residents, more than four times higher.”

Critics, including “All Business is Essential” leader Erik Kiilunen slammed the governor.  “It’s no surprise given her need to please the Black Lives Matter movement. After all, Governor Whitmer ignored her own social distancing rules to protest with them,” Mr. Kiilunen said.  “Governor, the only implicit bias is your bias against small businesses. Since you’re hopping aboard the ‘microaggressions’ train, I suggest you take some training on how to treat business owners with the dignity they deserve,” said Mr. Kiilunen.

"This is not alleging that people are racist," Whitmer said. "It's recognizing everyone has biases, from where we grew up or how we were raised. It's just a fact and that's why we've got to acknowledge it and seek to address it."

Kiilunen isn’t buying it.  “Your bias is against the people of Michigan you’re supposed to serve! Instead, you’ve deflected and dragged out this crisis and now you’re insulting thousands of state workers who aren’t racist but will be forced to learn BLM talking points.”

The administration says the Black Leadership Advisory Council created today will act in an advisory capacity to the governor and develop, review, and recommend policies and actions designed to eradicate and prevent discrimination and racial inequity in Michigan. To accomplish this goal, the Council is charged with:

  • Identifying state laws, or gaps in state law, that create or perpetuate inequities, with the goal of promoting economic growth and wealth equity for the Black community.
  • Collaborating with the governor’s office and the Black community to promote legislation and regulation that ensures equitable treatment of all Michiganders, and seeks to remedy structural inequities in this state.
  • Serving as a resource for community groups on issues, programs, sources of funding, and compliance requirements within state government in order to benefit and advance the interests of the Black community.
  • Promoting the cultural arts within the Black community through coordinated efforts, advocacy, and collaboration with state government.
  • Providing other information or advice or taking other actions as requested by the governor.
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