by | Jul 2, 2020 | Local News | 0 comments

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Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer remains at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement in Memphis by being one of the eight commissioners to propose a resolution to declare racism as a pandemic.

Places like Dallas County have already declared racism as a public health crisis, and Sawyer wants the city of Memphis to follow in those similar footsteps. By the county passing resolutions such as this one, they are recognizing racism in the health system, according to advocates.

Traditionally, pandemics are thought to be centered around infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus. According to Merriam Webster, pandemic as a noun is “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”

However, not everyone is in agreement with the words in the resolution. According to WREG, Commissioner Amber Mills had objecting questions about the document.

“Why call it a pandemic? That feels like everyone is racist,” Mills said in the virtual meeting, to which Sawyer rebutted.

“It’s not saying that individually everybody in Shelby County is racist. It’s saying it colors the vast majority of the interactions, policies, the education and the funding,” Sawyer said.

Mills wanted to combine Sawyer’s resolution with the original one, but Sawyer objected to that as well.

The present six commissioners in the meeting voted in favor of the resolution, but the full group has yet to meet and decide on an official decision.

If racism is declared a pandemic, what’s next? The definition of phrases like “pandemic” and “public health crisis” are rapidly changing.

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