GARE is excited to share emerging best practices from our network of municipal governments with a growing audience. Over winter break, GARE submitted an issue paper to the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent that recommended best practices for local governments to become agents for equity among people of African descent and other communities of color. In this blog, we share a summary of our submission and recommendations.
Recommendations to the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
Across the country, we have seen the introduction of many policies and programmatic efforts to advance racial equity. These individual approaches are important, but are not enough. To institutionalize racial equity within the public sector, government leaders need to take action on three different fronts. They must normalize racial equity as a key priority with a shared language and definitions, such as through promoting open discussions about racialized impacts and through publicly affirming racial equity goals. They must operationalize efforts so that racial equity is not just another item on the to-do list but ingrained in government operations in the policymaking process and through the use of data to measure and track progress. Finally, they must also organize both internally via staff trainings and organizational infrastructure as well as externally through community partnerships with residents of color, community based organizations, and other stakeholders.
In the submission, we specifically recommended local governments take the following actions:
- Clearly articulate a racial equity mission, vision and goals. Local government leaders need to put a stake in the ground declaring racial equity as a priority for their internal and external operations. Racial equity needs to not only be defined but publicly and formally elevated as a clear north star to guide all government operations. A clear articulation of racial equity as a government priority would also include the setting of specific goals, such as equitable service delivery, a diverse and representative government workforce, or a commitment to equity in all government decision making. This clear prioritization significantly supports the normalization of racial equity.
- Systemically consider the disparate racial impacts in government decision making. Too often, policies and programs are developed and implemented without thoughtful consideration of racial equity. When racial equity is not explicitly brought into operations and decision-making, racial inequities are likely to be perpetuated. For racial equity efforts to be most effective, local governments need to explicitly consider the racialized impacts of all decisions, including policies, programs, practices, and budgets. The use of racial equity tools that facilitate this consideration are an important step in operationalizing equity. For more details about how to build or use racial equity tools, see this resource from GARE.
- Organize and participate in staff racial equity trainings. An early step in the long-term transformation of local government is the investment in staff capacity and understanding of the historical roots and structural causes of current racial inequality. Racial equity trainings not only provide staff a shared language and a shared understanding of core concepts such as institutional and structural racism, they also provide staff with the tools and strategies to incorporate racial equity goals into their own daily practice. Trainings are an important early step in organizing internally for racial equity in government.