Youngstown City Council voted yes to declare racism a public health crisis this afternoon during a virtual zoom meeting.

Leigh A. Greene, Youngstown Minority Health Director, said, "The thing about the racism and the systemic process that was put in place many, many years ago going back to slavery, has kind of evolved to where we are now and the disparities that we have in the communities."

Greene says African Americans lead in every chronic disease and that systemic racism is producing racial inequalities in health. She added COVID-19 and racial injustice chaos has been a reminder of the racial barriers in our communities.

"COVID-19 brought to light some of the things we already knew," she said. "The fact that black and brown, especially the black community, is greatly impacted by the COVID virus because they say individuals with high blood pressure are at high risk, and 58-percent in Mahoning County have high blood pressure."

The city said by declaring the resolution, they're able to investigate education, income disparity, and issues in the justice system among others to create a better future.

"By declaring racism a public health issue, now that opens doors," she said.  "I'm hoping that opens doors to funding and to maybe bring in additional resources so that individuals can have healthy lives."

The council says the most important thing is for us to have a conversation and realize the systemic racism that exists in our country.

"People recognizing that it exists and helping the black community get out of this systemic racism trap we've been in for so long in this country..." Fifth-Ward Councilman, Julius Kingly Oliver, said. "This is going to produce policy change across the board, the country and the world."