City of Wheeling becomes first in WV to declare racism a public health crisis

Local News

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Wheeling City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to declare racism a Public Health Crisis in the city.

The ‘yes’ vote will work with city staff to review all policies and procedures with the purpose to eradicate any implicit or explicit racial bias.  

For decades health officials have recognized that racial disparities affect a person’s entire life…. Where they live, where they go to school, their health, their food access.

Lori Jones, Executive Director of Wheeling YWCA

As a health crisis, Wheeling will now require all classified and unclassified municipal employees, and new hires, to complete implicit bias training — with additional education on how racism affects people. 

It’s an ideology. It’s not something in the physical form. So, you’ll never be able to eradicate racism. But the one thing I know you can combat racism with is familiarity. That’s with cooperation with different communities as well as our own.

Isaiah Alford, Men Of Change rep.

The ultimate goal is towards an ‘inclusive workforce’. 

One of the most important things we’re going to do is take inventory of the administration here in the city of Wheeling – People who represent the city, and find ways to be inclusive and representative of our communities. 

Rosemary Ketchum, 3rd Ward Wheeling Councilwoman

“I know it’s a beautiful thing for all these men standing with us. Because that’s what we’re working for. That’s what we’re fighting for. To see things actually come about and happen. We couldn’t ask for any more,” said Alford.

Wheeling City Council will be the first in the state of West Virginia which is ground breaking. Our city council has been great in the last few years of addressing disparities of all sorts and this is just another step.

Lori Jones, Executive Director for the YWCA

Many representatives from the group ‘Men of Change’ filled the audience and say the step of call racism a public health crisis acknowledges that ‘racism affects every part of a person.’ Men of Change and the YWCA hope other cities in the state will follow in Wheeling’s lead.

The YWCA has a petition floating around right now with hundreds of signatures asking the state as a whole to declare racism as a public health crisis, with the intent to reach the governor’s desk by the new year. To sign, head here.

To read the full resolution from the City of Wheeling declaring racism a public health crisis, read below:

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