African Americans in Washtenaw County have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The percentage of infections and fatalities is higher than any other ethnicity. There are systemic reasons that existed pre-pandemic that are being highlighted by the crisis. The United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) is kicking off a new, five-day equity challenge in hopes of creating heightened awareness that, in turn, will prompt action to remedy the inequities. UWWC Vice President of Impact and Advocacy Bridget Healy and local minister Darryl Johnson discuss the issues and challenge with WEMU's David Fair on this week's "Washtenaw United."
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'
ABOUT THE GUESTS:
As the Vice President of Impact & Advocacy for United Way of Washtenaw County, she is responsible for establishing, leading, and executing United Way’s community impact agenda of grant making, financial stability programs, public policy advocacy, and community partnerships. Her professional experience in the United Way network spans from coast to coast, having worked at United Ways in Florida, Washington, and now Michigan. She has worked within the public/nonprofit sector for more than a decade and is a native of Miami, FL.
Darryl L. Johnson’s is the founder of I’m Third Ministries, where the motto is God First, Neighbor Second, and I’m Third! The I’m Third motto is “We’re Putting the Neighbor back in the Hood!” Darryl is a proud husband, father, and grandfather.
Minister Johnson moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and has been an enthusiastic supporter of several youth and community-serving initiatives. In 2016, he joined the Board of Directors for Mentor2Youth, a local 501 (c)3 that is committed to empowering youth to excel in life, academics and work. In 2019, he became the Executive Director of Mentor2Youth. He sits on the steering committee of Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper, a county-wide transformation and youth empowerment collaborative. He is a proud reader for the local organization Black Men Read and is a member of District-Wide Black Parents and Student Support Group for Ann Arbor Public School District. He is currently the Project Manager for a local transportation company.
In addition to business and psychology coursework completed in the San Diego City College, and Non-Profit Administration coursework complete in Rockhurst College (Kansas City, MO), Minister Johnson has been selected to participate in local leadership development initiatives, including ZingTrain/NEW DELI Leadership training and NEW’s Leaders of Color and attends workshops and conferences to stay abreast of the ever-changing business landscape. He is proud to be a Servant-Leader.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Washtenaw County, United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) established the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to support local human service nonprofits and community groups working with populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, $855,000 has been invested in local organizations and groups meeting the needs of people and communities most impacted by the pandemic. (Click here for all grants made and click here for Concentrate coverage of our work)
With the Governor’s “stay home stay safe” in effect until the end of May, UWWC wanted to make the connection between the disproportionate impact of the virus on Black and African American communities, and the community conditions which enabled this to occur.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed to us the inequities that are deeply rooted in our systems and institutions-- a look at local health department data illustrates this reality. Over 5 days, participants in the COVID-19 edition of the Equity Challenge will explore difficult topics like structural racism, segregation, and privilege to open up dialogue on how we can be champions of equity in our personal and professional lives.
Our goal? People take the time to reflect and learn how racial inequities permeate our community on individual, institutional and systemic levels, and how we’re seeing these inequities unfold during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all impacted by the system of racism in our country and therefore all responsible for dismantling the structures that allow it to persist. The final day of the Challenge will offer tools and resources for taking action locally in Washtenaw County.
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