Call to Councilmembers for Racial Equity (2020)

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the structural inequities that cause injustice and significant racial disparities throughout the city. The work to recover from this crisis offers an opportunity to remake, reframe, and restructure DC’s government to equitably support all residents and ensure they have better opportunities for health, happiness, and prosperity.

The REACH (formerly REAR) Act lays out several policy interventions that can begin to balance the scales and promote more equitable governmental policy and practice.

In light of the above, we have three asks:

# 1 — Support the REACH Act and publicly commit to support and push for the inclusion of our coalition’s 10-point policy platform (attached) in any enacted legislation (one page overview, and longer link to full recommendations)

# 2 — Begin the work of racial equity now by conducting an abbreviated Racial Equity Impact Assessments (REIAs) process.  At a minimum, this abbreviated REIA would apply to the budget decision-making process, as well as in oversight of any additional COVID-19-related relief work.

As guidance, we recommend the following:

A very simple REIA can be as straightforward as answering critical equity impact questions and sharing the results with your constituents, making your analysis of racial equity impact part of your rationale for your votes. 

During budget deliberations,COVID-19 response oversight, and emergency resource allocation discussions, you can answer the following questions (adapted from a Consumer Health Foundation blog):

  1. How does your response, even in the midst of crisis, contribute to long-term, equitable systems change?
  2. How are the concerns and voices of impacted communities centered in decision-making?
  3. What data (quantitative or qualitative) are driving resource allocation? And what does that data tell you about the experiences of various racial/ethnic groups? How are people of color and other minority groups particularly impacted?
  4. What are possible unintended consequences of the decisions you might make that might adversely affect racial equity?
  5. What additional disaggregated demographic data will you collect, track, and evaluate to assess equity impacts in COVID-19 response moving forward, and how will that data inform your future decisions when the crisis is over?
  6. How are the actions you are taking grounded in history?

# 3 — Meet with the DC Initiative (virtually) between now and July 31st to discuss #s 1 and 2 above.  

The DC Initiative stands ready to partner with you in support of the above requests.  Please do not hesitate to reach out.  We will be in touch if we do not hear from you soon.

Additional resources:

Washington Post Editorial Page call for REIAs in Coronavirus response:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-virus-is-worsening-the-racial-wealth-gap-careless-rescue-policies-could-too/2020/05/24/a2e42556-96b1-11ea-91d7-cf4423d47683_story.html

RACE Forward Overview of Racial Equity Impact Assessments:

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