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Can Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County develop a long-term plan to address racial inequity?

In January, Washtenaw County and the city of Ann Arbor announced the joint "One Community" initiative aimed at advancing local racial equity. Now, county commissioner Felicia Brabec, one of the initiative's leaders, says the question is: "How do we have this not fail?"

The original press release on the initiative states there is a 10-year difference in life expectancy between black and white residents in the county, and a 16-year difference in life expectancy between Latinx and white residents. Another statistic positions Washtenaw County at 80 out of 83 counties in Michigan for income inequality. Brabec says the county is like a tale of two cities, citing titles Ann Arbor has received in the past such as "the best place for young professionals" and "most educated."

"But then in the same place you have kids who have 30- to 40-point differences in test scores," Brabec says.


County commissioner Jason Morgan says addressing equity in the county is "absolutely critical."

"Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are some of the most economically segregated cities in the state, if not the country," he says. "The fact that we haven't done enough to address that is extremely concerning and disheartening."

Morgan hopes to bring more community engagement initiatives to the county, as not everyone can attend weeknight meetings or easily access the internet. He says improving community engagement efforts is another way to sustain One Community and a way to better serve the community.'

Morgan sees equity disparities as the county's biggest challenge, and says there must be vigilance involved so One Community doesn't lose steam.

"It is sustainable only as quickly as we advance the issues," he says.

Full article by Afaf Humamun attached here.


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