COLUMBUS — The murder of George Floyd has created social unrest in many cities across the American landscape. With tensions rising between civilian protesters and public servants, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made steps to address racial disparities in the state.
Gov. DeWine was accompanied by Lieutenant Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton during a regularly-scheduled press conference regarding COVID-19 updates across the state.
Gov. DeWine began his statements addressing the racial divide by telling those listening he is seeking “dialogue to solve these problems and seeking strategies for the implementation of reforms.”
“Whether it is in the urban core or the hills of Appalachia, we have Ohioans who are not living up to their God-given potential because they simply do not have the same opportunities,” Gov. DeWine stated. “That is wrong, and we have a moral obligation to change that.”
The governor added that race is “indisputably” a factor in areas such as health, education and economic disparities. As many citizens voice their opinions on social media, some are wondering how these issues will be addressed in the future.
Efforts from the statehouse in Columbus will include plans to improve law enforcement access to quality training, enhancing transparency between the police and public citizens, recruiting more minorities to serve as peace officers, along with adding more oversight in regards to Ohio’s law enforcement agencies for accountability.
Efforts to address other issues include continuing work in how lead paint is poisoning children. Other topics include reducing infant mortality in the African American community, increasing home visitation programs for the at-risk, first-time moms, fighting the drug epidemic in Ohio and prioritizing the availability of mental health services in Ohio’s schools for children in need.
On Thursday, Gov. DeWine was scheduled to hold a press conference for COVID-19 state updates, however, out of respect for the memorial service for George Floyd, the conference was canceled.
Additionally, that same day, the state governor requested that all Ohioans observe a moment of silence at 2 p.m. in remembrance of Floyd. The state’s moment of silence corresponded with the memorial ceremony held in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the same time.
According to data recorded in a 2018 report published by the Ohio Department of Health, in 2017, the infant mortality rate in Ohio was 7.2 deaths per 1,000 births. Another statistic showed that black infants die three times the rate as white infants.
According to Policy Matters Ohio, more black Americans live in the Midwest than in either the Northeast or the West. The organization also claims that multiple black families built middle class lives during Ohio’s unionized manufacturing economy in the 20th century.
However, Policy Matters Ohio states that segregation, unequal economic opportunity, as well as loss of unionized jobs has made situations worse for the black community. According to the organization, the share of Ohioans with bachelor’s degrees or higher shows the black community at 16.4 percent compared to the white community’s 28.1 percent.
Another collection of data shows that the median household income for black communities in Ohio are $30,575 compared to $56,395 in white communities. The poverty rate for the black population in the state is 32 percent compared to 11.5 percent for the white population, according to Policy Matters Ohio.
Policy Matters Ohio is a non-profit policy research institution. According to its website, it serves to create a more inclusive Ohio building policy advocacy.