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The Lookout | October 23, 2020

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Diversity officer joins state task force

Diversity officer joins state task force
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By Robin Morales
Associate Editor

LCC Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Tonya Bailey joined the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities April 13, to help address racial inequities compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has had an impact particularly on communities of color throughout the entire state,” Bailey said.

“African-Americans in the state of Michigan represent about 13 percent, almost 14 percent, of Michigan’s population, and, unfortunately, they represent about 40 percent of the deaths of COVID-19.”

Created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer April 9, Bailey was invited to join the task force by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, who is chairing the task force. Bailey is specifically a part of the Michigan Coronavirus Community Action Team, which focuses on ways to address social problems in underrepresented communities during the pandemic.

“We’ve been working on some actual letter writing and correspondence to Vice President (Mike) Pence to advocate for more rigorous federal reporting,” Bailey said. “We are writing letters to the Veterans Administration on requiring veteran data to be released and shared.

“The report that we’re working on is focused on communities of color, veterans and military status individuals, immigrant populations, and various individuals that are in zip codes that tend to have low economic status, or where there’s evidence of poverty.”

Bailey explained that the nature of historic and systemic racial inequities forms a critical component of the work on which the task force is currently focused.

“Trust in the people of color community is not high when it comes to federal (or) state government officials,” Bailey said. “A lot of people in these populations are not trusting of doctors and government.”

According to Bailey, the process of changing deeply-rooted racial disparities in our society is something that extends beyond the current pandemic. Bailey described addressing the “racism virus” as a “journey.”

“Not one task force or group can do it,” Bailey said. “This is, and must always be, the work of ‘we.’ W. E. And not the ‘me.’

“When we can collectively tackle anything, we can accomplish everything.”

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