CITY: ‘Deeper Than Racism’: Jackson Declares ‘Classism’ a Public Health Crisis | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

CITY: ‘Deeper Than Racism’: Jackson Declares ‘Classism’ a Public Health Crisis

Angela Harris who assumed the position of municipal clerk on June 9, was the deputy municipal clerk for six years. Photo courtesy City of Jackson

Angela Harris who assumed the position of municipal clerk on June 9, was the deputy municipal clerk for six years. Photo courtesy City of Jackson

To attract more funds to counter the impact of socioeconomic factors on health disparity, the Jackson City Council unanimously declared classism as a public-health crisis on June 9, saying it is recommitting itself to improving the quality of life and health of the underclass.

While introducing the resolution, Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps said what the City faces is deeper than racism with regards to the health and other sectors.

"Several cities around the country are approaching the federal government and the Center for Disease Control to look at issues inside their communities," he said. "Delaware just received partnership with CDC on racism and public health. In the city of Jackson, we have a situation where people don't have appropriate services, and it’s deeper than racism."

He said the resolution will facilitate a partnership with the CDC, thereby increasing the resources available to the City from grants "on a more robust scale.”

The council listed class-based inequalities ripe for attention. They include crime rate, social capital, education, transportation, employment, food access, health behaviors, socioeconomic status, environmental exposure, access to health services housing and public safety.

"The City of Jackson is committed to directly addressing inequalities, including systematic data-driven focus on poverty, economic mobility, and other factors that impact the social determinants of health," the resolution states. "Minorities are impacted more greatly by challenges and inequalities in many areas."

Ward 5 Councilman Charles H. Tillman said the resolution has the potential to draw money for development in housing, transportation, education and health sectors. "A lot of money will be coming to this city," he said.

Council President Virgi Lindsay of Ward 7 said the resolution addresses a crucial issue facing the city.

Classism, as stated in the resolution, is ranking people based on economic status, family lineage, job status and level of education. The City is taking a position against individual attitudes and behaviors, as well as systems of policies and practices that benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes, leading to income and wealth inequality.

"The privileges that other Americans experience inhibits them from fully understanding how classism impacts the underprivileged who do not have life advantages such as inherited money, good childhood health care, quality education or the inherent knowledge of how systems of power operate," the resolution noted.

Angela Harris is New Municipal Clerk

Angela Harris has been appointed municipal clerk of the City of Jackson. Presenting her for approval at the regular City council meeting on June 9, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said Harris is adequately qualified for the position and has his full confidence.

Harris, a native of Meridian, Miss., in her presentation, touted her achievement working as the deputy city clerk from 2013, specifying the cost-saving and transparency initiatives she spearheaded to improve the workings of the clerk office.

She is a graduate of Jackson State University with Municipal Clerk and Tax Collectors Association Certification and has enrolled in the international institute of municipal clerks.

Ward 2 Councilman Melvin V. Priester, Jr., expressed delight at the decision to name Harris as the clerk, having brought her to the council with him seven years before.

"She is someone who has a very analytical mind and has worked to make the city better," he said. "The clerk's office is one of those things that when it works best, you don't know it’s working at all. She would be of tremendous service to the people of Jackson in this role."

Ward 4 Cuncilman De'Keither Stamps praised Harris as someone who lives in his ward and has helped with neighborhood cleanups and other issues in the community.

Harris' son Caleb, an Eagle Scout, daughter Brittney, and other well-wishers, witnessed the occasion as her appointment was joyously and unanimously approved.

City Plans More Cellular Towers to Boost Revenue

As a way to shore up revenue in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the council on June 9 approved a resolution to explore partnerships to build cellular towers in addition to the 26 it already operates, which brings in $3 million yearly.

Councilman De’Keither Stamps sponsored the resolution, which targets areas outside city limits. He said that it is vital because many people do not have home phones and depend on cell services powered by cell-phone towers.

"This is an attempt to partner with other agencies to grow that enterprise," he said. "We have to look at new ways to increase (revenue) because tourism is going to be down, others things are going to be down, but one thing that needs to increase is people having access to proper cell-phone service."

He said the initiative will benefit not only the City but also the citizens and under-served areas that need access to broadband with a functional communications link vital for public safety.

Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.

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