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Board adopts resolution declaring racism a public health crisis

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution on Tuesday declaring racism a public health crisis becoming the first county in California to do so.

The Board also directed County staff to form a new Equity Element Group of the Countywide Vision project to promote and increase equity in San Bernardino County. Once formed, the Equity Element Group would be comprised of community members and experts in healthcare, education, economic development, law and justice, and other fields to create a path toward promoting and increasing equity within the county.

The issue of racism as a public health crisis came to the forefront following the global response to the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the impact of COVID-19 on the Black community and discussions with local community advocates.

The resolution states that racism results in disparities in family stability, health and mental wellness, education, employment, economic development, public safety, criminal justice and housing.

Statistics show:

-The infant mortality rate within San Bernardino County’s Black population is more than double the rate for the County as a whole.

-Black people account for less than 9 percent of the County’s population but almost 19 percent of County jail bookings and 38 percent of the bookings into County juvenile detention facilities;
More than 21 percent of the County’s homeless population is Black.

-The Black homeownership rate in San Bernardino County is less than 43 percent but stands at 60 percent for the County as a whole.

-In San Bernardino County, only 17 percent of Black students compared to more than 31 percent of all students are proficient in math and less than 35 percent of Black students compared to
almost 45 percent of all students are proficient in English/Language Arts.

-The college and career readiness rate is 44 percent for all students but is only 30 percent for Black students; Meanwhile, suspension and expulsion rates for Black students
are more than twice the respective rates for all students.

The County will actively participate in the dismantling of racism by:

-Collaborating with the County’s law and justice agencies and the community to ensure public confidence that public safety is administered equitably by ensuring that meaningful discussions
are conducted by the Equity Element Group on identifying mechanisms for researching and addressing public concerns related to law enforcement performance within San Bernardino

-Promoting equity through policies to be considered by the Board of Supervisors and enhancing meaningful, thoughtful, and data-driven education efforts aimed at understanding, addressing, and dismantling racism, and how racism affects public health, family stability, early education, economic development, public safety, and the delivery of human services.

-Identifying specific activities to enhance diversity within the County Government workforce.

-Advocating through the California State Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties for relevant policies that improve health outcomes in communities of color, and
supporting local, regional, state, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism.

-Building and strengthening alliances with other organizations that are confronting racism, and encouraging other agencies to recognize racism as a crisis, including considering County
membership in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), which is a national network of local government agencies working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all.

-Supporting community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engaging actively and authentically with communities of color throughout our County.

-Studying and evaluating existing County policies and practices through a lens of racial equity to promote and support policies that prioritize health in an equitable way, especially for people of color, by mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experiences.

-Encouraging each of the twenty-four incorporated cities and towns within San Bernardino County to also adopt resolutions affirming that racism is a public health crisis that results in disparities.

To read the resolution, click here. To learn more about the Countywide Vision, visit

19 thoughts on "Board adopts resolution declaring racism a public health crisis"

  1. Jacob Fredricks says:

    Thank you for declaring racism a public health crisis. As a pastor in Rancho Cucamonga and a resident of Fontana (in your district), I want to ask you to not allow this declaration to be the end of the conversation and work on racism in our county. Please put this at the front of your agenda. Let’s not allow this moment in our nation to go by without producing lasting change.

  2. regina greer-smith says:

    Thank you Supervisors for this important recognition of inequities in SBC.

  3. Mike Hessen says:

    This is fantastic! Amazing!

  4. D Vilt says:

    I hope the county studys why some minorities, namely Asians and African/Caribbean immigrants, do better than blacks and whites in education success, lower crime rates, business success, family stability, and self-reliance. We need to find out how the black community can combat racist health crisis factors like low percentage of fathers in the home, low priority given to education achievement, illegal drug use, high youth crime rates, and high rates of poverty promoting, out-of-marriage births. What methods do successful blacks use to overcome the racism health crisis?

    1. Ellen Gruenbaum says:

      Keep in mind that often such rates reflect the effects of biases in health care (we need to know more about how to deliver care to all people without prejudicial expectations about how different groups will understand medical decisions, tolerate pain, or be able to afford recommended nutrition, etc.), disparities in educational achievement expectations by teachers who are not necessarily trained to understand their own misperceptions of groups, and the “war on drugs” differences that punished the use of drugs that white people used less harshly than the use of drugs Black people used, etc. In other words, there are may structural impacts on those rates of successes, crime rates, and stabilities that were just mentioned. Once we begin to understand these contexts, we can do a better job of not blaming people for their disadvantages, but rather making changes that will improve the public health and success of all our children and adults. Good idea to see see how these things connect to public health!

    2. JT says:

      Very good point.
      Locking poor communities of any ethnicity into sub standard and harmful conditions or stifling opportunity is ethically wrong and disastrous for society. The core issues need to be acknowledged and addressed.
      Sadly, politics conflates and diverts from that intellectually honest conversation.

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you for addressing racism. I would like to take this further, by recommending that county elected officials read the book, The Color of Law. This book explains the history of how communities became divided and what we can do to as citizens to make a difference. The author spoke in 2019 at the San Bernardino County Museum Dome Talks. The entire experience was worthwhile and eye opening to me.

  6. Mohabee Serrano says:

    Can this point on the order, be clarified, with actual details?

    -The Black homeownership rate in San Bernardino County is less than 43 percent but stands at 60 percent for the County as a whole.

    I think the proofreader was asleep at the wheel!

    1. County residents as a whole have a homeownership rate of 60 percent. If you single out Black homeownership, the rate is 43 percent.

  7. Lisa says:

    I have question….Why is it that you mention the impact of COVID19 on the black community, when the numbers listed on this very sites dashboard show that the number of confirmed cases among the black race are 518, and the number of confirmed cases among the white race are 3234? Please don’t misunderstand me…Covid19 is a problem for every race, every age, and every sex, and every nationality. It should be addressed as such. Why do you only mention its effect on one certain community? Before I am labeled as racist, I would like to say I am far from racist. I just don’t believe one certain community should be singled out and helped when the entire county is crisis! Shouldn’t your agenda as leaders of our community be to focus on the improvement of the county as a whole?

    1. Starlite says:


    2. Dianne Anderson says:

      Covid-19 impact is three times as high as a *Rate* in the Black community than in the white community. Blacks only represent 13% of the nation’s population, but are dying at the *rate* of three times that of the white population.

  8. Mark says:

    The County Supervisors are simply trying to garner votes by skewing and intentionally misrepresenting the statistics by representing correlation as causation…it’s all about securing their election.

  9. Real Woke says:

    Through this resolution declaring racism a public health emergency per AB 262 (2019) County Board of Supervisors of San Bernardino have just given authority to the Public Health Officer of San Bernardino county to TAKE ANY ACTION to combat racism in the county. For instance an order could be issued to defund the police in the county. Do you see where doing this could lead? Would like a reply from the county on this as you were warned this is where it could lead. Why do you think activists all around California went to the county board of supervisors throughout the state to ask for a county to declare racism a public health emergency? They know the authoritarian power of AB 262. We all see it with Covid!

  10. James Clayton says:

    Its an election year: fix the roads, give-away more borrowed money, appeal to what you believe are your primary constituents.
    Andrea Jenkins—the first black openly-transgender woman elected to office in the U.S.—explains racism should be treated as a public health crisis.

    County Adopts Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis
    Published June 23, 2020 | By County of San Bernardino
    This week, San Bernardino became the first county in California to adopt a resolution declaring RACISM A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS.
    The Job of the County of San Bernardino is to create a county in which those who reside and invest can prosper and achieve well-being.

    Mission Statement The mission of the government of the County of San Bernardino is to satisfy its customers by providing service that promotes the health, safety, wellbeing, and quality of life of its residents according to the County Charter, general laws, and the will of the people it serves.

    CAO – Countywide Vision > Vision Statement
    We envision a complete county that capitalizes on the diversity of its people, its geography, and its economy to create a broad range of choices for its residents in how they live, work, and play.
    We envision a vibrant economy with a skilled workforce that attracts employers who seize the opportunities presented by the county’s unique advantages and provide the jobs that create countywide prosperity.
    We envision a sustainable system of high‐quality education, community health, public safety, housing, retail, recreation, arts and culture, and infrastructure, in which development complements our natural resources and environment.

    We envision a model community which is governed in an open and ethical manner, where great ideas are replicated and brought to scale, and all sectors work collaboratively to reach shared goals.
    From our valleys, across our mountains, and into our deserts, we envision a county that is a destination for visitors and a home for anyone seeking a sense of community and the best life has to offer.

    Or do what you SHOULD have been doing for at least the last 30 years:
    My former neighbor and friend since 1968, Garrett Hardin was professor emeritus of human ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His latest book, Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos (Oxford University Press, 1993) received the Phi Beta Kappa Science Award for 1993.The essay below was given as an address to the National Association of Biology Teachers at its convention in Houston, Texas on November 10, 1990,The%20vast%20majority%20of%20biologists%20agree%20with%20Dobzhansky.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Why do you suppose everyone in the world wants to come here even though it’s over?
      Think it might be the infrastructure that wasn’t all built with Chinese coolies including first world drinkable water, public health, solid waste disposal, and relative safety from violent crime and cartels controlling everything from slavery to narcotics? Think economic migrants are eroding the values they’re seeking? Consider just one facet of Change you don’t have to believe-in—just change you see and pay-for with taxes withheld from your labor and extorted under threat of losing your home if you don’t:

      CALTRANS Litter and Debris Activity
      FY 2016-2017
      Just District 8 (Riverside & San Bernardino Counties)
      Mostly litter & graffiti cleanup and illegal sign removal

      Producers, Taxpayers: work on your reading comprehension and THEN consider voting records:
      The Maladapative Altruism of White Communities: Chapter 7 of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

      1. James Clayton says:

        Editor: Dr. MacDonald is retired from professorship in psychology at Cal State Long Beach; please change the last line of the above to:

  11. JT says:

    Reasonable thinkers would take these stats into account and work to create a level opportunity field… Acknowledging that individuals will still make their own choices and the rest of the public cannot be held responsible for those consequences.
    Focus should be on:
    *Better diet and health choices
    *Healthy food availability
    *Education choice to ensure adequacy
    *Identifying and isolating/protecting most vulnerable to Covid-19 complications while allowing others to open up/work with safety standards to drive economy and fund the above goals
    (Sweden is doing great on this last point)

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