Community cannot effectively achieve racial equity without government that has made a commitment to equity. Simultaneously, government cannot effectively achieve racial equity without the full participation of engaged, directly-impacted communities.
Glenn Harris, President
Right now, we have the opportunity to move a meaningful “side-by-side” strategy that centers the power and innovation of communities of color while also leveraging the power of local government to create racially equitable communities. This is why we’re proud to work with the Haas Institute for a Fair & Inclusive Society (HIFIS) to host the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) as a joint project.
GARE is a national network of local and regional government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. GARE draws on the success of the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI)—the first initiative of its kind in the nation to center racial equity across all aspects of local government. Currently, GARE consists of 15 city, county and regional jurisdictions representing the following states: California, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Additionally, GARE is working with over 100 additional local jurisdictions that have expressed interest in making racial equity a reality, and is implementing cohorts in California and Minnesota.
Together, our work consists of trainings, development of racial equity work plans, implementation of racial equity tools, building organizational infrastructure, supporting coalitions, and developing measurement tools.
Simply put: Government represents our vehicle to drive toward racial equity.
Our nation’s history makes inseparable the relationship between good government and racial equity. The national meta-narrative on race is centered on two interlocking concepts: “individual responsibility” and “limited government.” These frames both deny the existence of structural racial inequity and negate collective action for remedy. To get to racial equity, we must challenge the way race is used to undermine the role of government, and we must build effective government that addresses structural racial inequity.
This won’t be easy. Communities of color across the country often have lacked access to the very government that is in place to serve them, and are rarely invited to participate meaningfully in the creation and implementation of policies that affects their health, safety, and wellbeing. But we’re in a pivotal moment. Because of mass movement – #BlackLivesMatter – and decades of grassroots organizing, governmental jurisdictions across the country now have made explicit commitments to achieve racial equity, which, if realized, have the potential to leverage significant change.
This is no small matter. If we can align racial equity strategies in government with organizing strategies in communities of color, we can make exponential leaps toward racial equity. That is our charge today and this is this is why we welcome GARE as a program of CSI.
In 2016, CSI will launch a national open-source campaign and toolkit for grassroots organizations, particularly grassroots organizations of color, to move local governments to implement racial equity strategies and tools.
Tools You Can Use:
Already, GARE has made available tools for government jurisdictions looking to operationalize racial equity. We hope you’ll find them useful, whether you work in community, government, or at the nexus of both.
- Advancing Racial Equity and Transforming Government – A Resource Guide: This guide is based on the lessons learned from practitioners, as well as academic experts and national technical assistance providers, to advance racial equity in government. Download the guide.
- Racial Equity Toolkit: An Opportunity to Operationalize Equity: This racial equity tool is designed to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in decisions, including policies, practices, programs and budgets. Use of a racial equity tool can help to develop strategies and actions that reduce racial inequities and improve success for all groups. View the toolkit.
- Dane County Racial Equity Analysis & Recommendations: GARE and CSI published a report outlining steps that Dane County, Wisconsin can take to move toward racial equity. Download the report.