Establishing an Anti-Racist Los Angeles County Policy Agenda

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will introduce the motion “Establishing an Anti-racist Los Angeles County Policy Agenda” at today’s July 21,.Board of Supervisors meeting. 

Noting the legacy of slavery continues to disadvantage African Americans, the motion calls on the Board to declare that racism is a matter of public health and to prioritize its elimination from county policies, practices, operations and programs.

The motion also calls for making legislative, policy and programmatic changes to prioritize physical and mental health, housing, employment, public safety, and justice in an equitable way for African Americans. Finally, it calls for tracking progress by reporting annually on the State of Black Los Angeles County.

“It is incumbent upon those of us who sit in positions of authority to begin dismantling systemic racial bias within the entities for which we are responsible,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “It’s no longer sufficient to support diversity and inclusion initiatives. The County has made great strides toward addressing and eliminating implicit bias; it is time to advance to the next level. The County must move to identify and confront explicit institutional racism to set the national standard and become a leader of anti-racist policymaking and program implementation.”

The motion comes in the wake of the May 25th killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that set off nationwide protests against structural racism and discrimination, asymmetrical consolidation of power and extreme wealth and income inequity – all of which disproportionately disadvantage Black people.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has fought against racism throughout his 40-year career, beginning with a decade of service as the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (1981-1991), whose national organization was co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the past year, the Supervisor advocated to implement the recommendations of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness, which identified racism as the primary driver of homelessness among African Americans. He convened a coalition of African American leaders to create an Agenda for California: An African American Perspective that was well received by Gov. Gavin Newsom and sponsored the “Undesign the Red Line” interactive traveling exhibit to educate the public about discriminatory housing practices against African Americans.

The Supervisor previously authored motions to create the Los Angeles County Equity Initiative and to enhance the training of Los Angeles County employees to stifle implicit biases and subconscious prejudices that adversely affect public service.

This week, the heads of various Los Angeles County departments have issued a statement pledging to stand against racism. “We acknowledge that as government leaders, we have an opportunity to change the narrative on the role of government and its relationship to the communities it serves.”

“Collectively, the work of our departments have far-reaching impacts on all aspects of our residents’ lives, particularly in the areas of employment, land use, education, voting, housing, health, arts and museums, infrastructure, justice, veteran services, environmental protections, community services and ensuring a fair and equitable marketplace,” they said. “We stand against racism in any form, and pledge to use our offices to advance racial and social equity, diversity and fairness.”

Details:www.declaration-against-racism

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