2016 Program: Policy and Voting
California is experiencing growing demographic shifts across the state – higher concentrations of communities of color, where alarmingly, disparities and civil rights inequities are starting to settle in. Diverse regions showing little progress in opportunities for communities of color. Frequent news headlines include: achievement gaps widening for the state’s Black and Latino students; a dramatic disparity in the percentage of Black men incarcerated; the city of Lancaster and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in the Antelope Valley settling a federal lawsuit that uncovered racial housing discrimination, and; Modesto losing a lawsuit that aimed to change its political system to encourage the majority-Latino city to convert to elections that would enable more Latinos to successfully run for office. In partnership with USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, PICO, and California Calls, Advancement Project’s Achieving Racial Equity Initiative addresses two questions: What is the current state of racial disparity in California? What does a racially equitable California look like? Looking at political participation, health, safety, economic opportunity, and education, we will develop: a framework laying out a vision of racial equity for California; an index ranking all counties on their progress; policy reports assessing existing policy implementation efforts connected to issues within the framework, and; collaborative advocacy supporting community-led campaigns. Using our framework as a starting point, we will discuss how this tool translates to similar racial equity efforts across the country and identify strategies for how to leverage complementary initiatives to elevate the national discussion.
The OUR MPLS partnership of 25 community organizations working on racial equity issues first came together after the 2013 Minneapolis elections to develop a racial equity agenda for the city. In early 2014, they shared their agenda with the newly elected mayor and other elected leaders, many of whom ran on a racial equity platform. Two years later, Minneapolis still faces some of the worst disparities in the nation in employment, education, incarceration, and more. The city made national headlines for the shooting death of an African American man by Minneapolis police, and the community response through sustained protests and calls for changes in policy and practice. The OUR MPLS partners came together in January 2016 to announce the development of a community-led racial equity report card on the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, and the Minneapolis Public Schools that will be released in the Fall of 2016. This is the first city-level report card on racial equity and builds on Voices' 10-year history of producing the Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity. This session will offer the chance to learn about the process of developing the report card, the methodology, and the importance of community-driven research in changing narratives, driving policy change, and holding elected officials accountable for racial equity commitments and leadership. The session will offer practical advice, a methodology template, and the inspiration for local grassroots organizers to lead similar strategies in their communities.
This session will provide an introduction to the role, responsibilities and opportunities for government to advance racial equity. It will highlight national best practices that normalize racial equity as a key value, operationalize racial equity via new policies and practices, and organize, both internally and in partnership with other institutions and the community. Across the country, we know that race predicts how well one will fare across all indicators for success, including housing, transportation, health, education, criminal justice, jobs, and the environment. We also know that actions of government created and have maintained racial inequities. To advance racial equity, the fundamental transformation of government is necessary.
The session will include an overview of shared terminology and use of racial equity tools that can be used in decisions relating to policies, practices, programs and budgets. We will focus on an “inside-outside” strategy that highlight the potential for maximizing impact. Nelson and Harris will highlight the important roles of community, government staff and elected leaders. This will be a great opportunity to join with others from across the country to leverage the power of government to advance racial equity and increase success for all of our communities.