COMMENTARY - As leaders of a city as diverse as Los Angeles, it is our responsibility to ensure the equitable distribution of city services and resources.
But in order to do that, we must have the tools in place to effectively examine the ways in which we have unwittingly fallen short. Only when we are clear on our flaws, can we course-correct.
Introduced by Councilmembers me, Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, the “Antiracism motion” calls upon the Civil and Human Rights + Equity Department to produce a Racial Equity Audit of City programs, policies and practices; and to develop a plan that addresses barriers to economic stability, specifically among African Americans.
For generations, the saying, ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ has been used as a wholly inadequate instruction. Local institutions and businesses hindered and denied African Americans and others participation in employment, housing, and opportunity in everyday life through legislation and policy. The strategic deployment of racism through acts and mandates is the most significant loss of social capital and innovation across sectors that Americans have ever known, and still need to remedy. Today in Los Angeles, this motion is foundational and ignites the way for change," said Councilmember Harris-Dawson.
We have reached a critical turning point and if we are ever to reconcile with the past wrongdoings done to the Black community and tackle race relations, it is our duty to push for measures that ensure there is a more equitable and fair distribution of services that addresses systemic inequities to erase color-lines,” said Councilman Curren Price. “We cannot sit back and watch history continue to repeat itself. We want to put an end to the cycle here and now.
LA Civil Rights is grateful for the opportunity to support this important work,” said Capri Maddox, Executive Director of the city’s Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, also known as LA Civil Rights. “Systemic racism didn’t come out of thin air - it came from centuries of policies that separated Black communities from their wealth, their health and their freedom. But just as our country designed a system of inequality, we can also build a future of inclusion and justice - and Los Angeles is showing the way.
Earlier this summer, Mayor Garcetti signed Executive Directive 27 to establish a Racial Equity Task Force within the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, and pushed forth the formation of the Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE) coalition which aims to support federal reparations legislation, establish advisory commissions in their respective cities, and work toward developing and implementing reparations demonstration programs targeted to a pilot group of Black Americans in their communities. The motion builds on this work by codifying Executive Directive 27 into law in the City of Los Angeles.
There is no question that work remains to close the racial gaps that exist in our country when it comes to wealth, health, and education,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The motion builds on the equity work we’re doing in Los Angeles, and I’m proud to work alongside Councilmembers who are committed to confronting structural racism and fulfilling America’s promise to all its people.
(Mark Ridley-Thomas is councilmember for the 10th District in LA and occasional contributor to CityWatch.)