LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Black Leadership Advisory Council was created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to indentify barriers to success in the Black community. On Tuesday they released a report including 11 recommendation on ways to close the state's equity gap.
"What we have come up with, I think it's a collection of recommendations that really will improve the quality of life for African Americans in our state, and that's why they're important," said Kim Trent, deputy director for prosperity for the Michigan Department of Labor Economic Opportunity.
Trent is a member of the council and said the support for the Crown Act was at the top of the list.
"Because we have a different texture to our hair and a different culture, different cultural expressions... what has happened is sometimes they face discrimination in the workplace and at school," she said in reference to Black hair.
The group also recommends capping payday loan interests rates at 36% and including Black businesses in Michigan's $10 billion federal infrastructure projects.
"When we think about where we've been in the state, in this moment in history for the last couple of years, when certainly there has been a lot more attention to how important equity is and how government should play a role in creating equity," Trent said.
Other recommendations include:
- Support diversity on corporate boards and in c-suites: Requesting Michigan legislature to hold hearings on House Bill 597, which encourages corporate boards to have more diverse representation, and pass the legislation.
- Better collection and analysis of criminal justice data: Data collection and professional analysis be initiated with the assistance of the 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 House Bill 5013 and other legislation that would ban or limit the use of no-knock or quick knock warrants; urging the state legislature to pass reforms, and advising 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.
- Reject censorship in history instruction: Encouraging Whitmer to ensure the goal for Michigan schools be history instruction that is presented by professionals with the subject matter expertise, teaching 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.
Trent said that the council is not just about equity for the Black community, it's equity for everybody.
"I think that people will find that what we're proposing are things that will help all of Michigan because we can't have a strong Michigan unless all Michiganders have access to opportunity. And that's what this council is all about."
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