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Black Leadership Advisory Council Finalizes Report for More Inclusive State

Michigan Chronicle
May 22, 2022

The Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) appointed by Governor Whitmer made 11 policy recommendations to close racial equity gaps and build a stronger, more inclusive Michigan.

It centered the recommendations on kitchen-table issues, proposing investments, initiatives, and policy changes in education, community safety, justice, small business growth, and health to advance racial equity in Michigan.

“The Black Leadership Advisory Council recommendations are a step in the right direction to create a more inclusive, equitable Michigan,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “We are committed to working together and enacting these recommendations as we build a more inclusive state and continue delivering on the kitchen-table issues that matter most to working families and communities of color including great schools, good jobs, clean water, safe roads, and so much more.”

Convened by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in late 2020, the mission of the Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) is to identify barriers in the Black community in education, community safety, health, and business leadership.

“The Council has been diligent throughout the year to create recommendations that will help Michigan be more equitable for Black communities throughout the state and tackle issues that have plagued Black communities for far too long,” said Robert Womack, a Kent County Commissioner who also serves as the council’s co-chair.

Over the past year, subject experts have presented to BLAC on various issues. Based on those presentations and other forms of research and analysis, BLAC has offered 11 policy recommendations to Gov. Whitmer:

  • Support the CROWN Act: Legislation that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and other opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists, or Bantu knots.
  • Support a Michigan payday loan interest rate cap: Urging Michigan legislature to adopt and Gov. Whitmer to sign legislation that would cap interest rates for payday loans at 36% APR.
  • Include Black businesses in Michigan’s $10 billion federal infrastructure projects: Asking the Gov. Whitmer administration to work closely with business organizations that serve Black business owners to help Black entrepreneurs get the resources, credit and training they need to be able to participate in a meaningful way in contracting opportunities presented by the federal infrastructure investments that are coming to Michigan.
  • Support diversity on corporate boards and in c-suites: Requesting Michigan legislature to hold hearings on HB 597, which encourages corporate boards to have more diverse representation and pass the legislation.
  • Better collection and analysis of criminal justice data: BLAC recommends data collection and professional analysis be initiated with the assistance of our Attorney General, Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), Association of Michigan Prosecutors and other stakeholders to collaborate, collect and analyze data strategically.
  • Ban no-knock warrants: Urging the House Government Operations Committee to hold hearings on HB 5013 and other legislation that would ban or limit the use of no-knock or quick knock warrants, and urging the state legislature to pass meaningful reform and advise Gov. Whitmer to sign the bill after the legislature adopts it.
  • Increase school funding: Statutory changes to increase the School Aid Fund revenue by at least $3.6 billion and establish a permanent weighted funding formula based on student and community needs and universal preschool (0-3).
  • Reject censorship in history instruction: Encouraging Gov. Whitmer to ensure the goal for Michigan schools should be history instruction that is presented by professionals with the subject matter expertise, pedagogical skills, and judgment necessary to present complex information to students that are grounded in provable facts and add to the understanding of modern-day America.
  • Increase mental health supports for the Black community: Recommending Michigan set a goal of increasing the number of Black mental health service providers by 20% each year over five years. The health committee recommends reviewing state licensure policies to address the barriers that Black psychologists face in obtaining licensure in Michigan.
  • Ensure equitable distribution of state health funds: Ensure all Michigan communities with a significant Black population receive adequate funds to address mental health issues.
  • Protecting Black voting rights: Urge state officials to remain vigilant in the fight against schemes to disenfranchise Michiganders of color.

“BLAC members have worked hard to identify the needs of the Black community and we feel these recommendations will provide a solid first step towards breaking down barriers in education, community safety, health and business,” said BLAC Co-Chair Dr. Donna L. Bell.

BLAC will hold a virtual town hall meeting to discuss its policy recommendations on Thursday, May 12 at 4 p.m. Join BLAC and a virtual audience in discussing the recommendations to support the Black community.

BLAC is housed in the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. Members represent many professional backgrounds, including economics, law, public safety, health and wellness, arts and culture and media. They leverage their experiences and expertise to make recommendations to the governor on critical issues affecting the Black community.

To learn more about BLAC and this upcoming event, visit www.michigan.gov/BLAC.

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