On the heels of President Biden signing historic legislation to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mark Ridley-Thomas, Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson introduced a motion to ensure an ongoing antiracist framework for governance of, and sustained investment by, the City of Los Angeles.
“It is incumbent upon those of us who sit in positions of authority to work hard to dismantle systemic racial barriers within the entities for which we are responsible," said Councilmember Ridley-Thomas. “This motion is intended to be disruptive, catalytic and inclusive – it is no longer sufficient to just support diversity and inclusion initiatives, we must move to identify solutions to advance racial equity – and this is the first step.”
Noting the deep systemic inequities and institutionalized racist structures that have plagued our nation for centuries, the motion calls on the City’s Civil + Human Right + Equity Department to produce a “Racial Equity Audit” of existing City programs, policies and practices to determine whether African Americans and other underserved communities face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities available across the City. The motion also calls for development of a Plan to Address Barriers to Economic Stability Among African Americans and other racial minorities.
“We have reached a critical turning point and if we are ever to reconcile with the past wrongdoings done to the Black community, it is our duty to push for measures that ensure there is a more equitable and fair distribution of services that addresses systemic inequities and erases 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.”
In addition, the motion requests the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance to strengthen the Mayor Garcetti’s Executive Directive No. 27 in order to establish a Racial Equity Task Force within the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department, and requires that all City General Managers submit annual Racial Equity Plans and designate a Racial Equity Officer, who would work to create greater transparency and accountability.
"The City of Los Angeles has a responsibility to ensure African-Americans and underserved communities have equal access to the services, resources, and opportunities needed to thrive," said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
"The impact of economic instability can last a lifetime, and identifying the barriers to financial stability is necessary in promoting racial equity across Los Angeles. This motion is a step in the right direction in equipping the City with the tools needed to implement policies, programs and services that are equitable for all people.”
Today, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the formation of Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE), the largest-ever coalition of American mayors committing 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. In addition, Mayor Garcetti also announced the members of the L.A. Reparations Advisory Commission — a blue-ribbon task force comprised of leading voices in activism, academia, law, and racial justice — which will advise the City on a future reparations pilot program for a group of Black residents.
The motion has drawn widespread support, from community leaders including:
“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. “Today’s 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.”
“If there has been one benefit to the Covid pandemic, it’s that it shined a light on the numerous ways racial bias and inequity continue to impact communities of color across LA, California, and the US. As the leader of the nation’s largest long term care union, I have witnessed these inequities firsthand, from a lack of PPE access early in the pandemic, to a lack of vaccine access that is still impacting thousands of Black and brown people as we speak. The racial equity motion being introduced this week by Councilman Ridley-Thomas is an important first step in understanding where these issues are most pervasive in LA city programs; I hope that others will join me in supporting this essential measure for our most essential communities,” said April Verrett Black Experience Action Team Chair President, SEIU 2015.