Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Thursday outlined a motion he will introduce next week that would create a strategic plan to craft antiracist policies and practices to help Black people in Los Angeles County.
The motion requests the Board of Supervisors declare that racism is a matter of public health and to prioritize eliminating biases from county operations and programs.
“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,” 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 antiracist policymaking and program implementation.”
The motion is planned to be introduced at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
If adopted, the motion would direct the County CEO to develop a strategic plan to prioritize physical and mental health, housing, employment, public safety and justice in an equitable way for Blacks.
A report on the strategies would be given to the Board of Supervisors within 60 days.
It would also have the CEO track progress of Black people annually and make recommendations for supporting local, regional, state and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism, according to the motion.
Reports would include economic and law enforcement data related to Blacks in the county.
“We have an opportunity, I want to underscore, a responsibility to take up this mantle and run with it as far as we can because we have endured too much for too long,” Ridley-Thomas said. “But we can set a standard, a national standard, and that’s what we hope to do. No one is claiming that it’s going to be simple, easy or uncomplicated.”
According to the motion, Black people make up about 9% of the population in Los Angeles County, but they also represent:
— 11% of COVID-19 related fatalities;
— 27% of the people shot or seriously injured by law enforcement (in 2017);
— Nearly 30% of the overall population in county jails; and,
— 34% of the population experiencing homelessness.
Also, an analysis by UCLA on unemployment in California during the COVID-19 crisis found that as many as 22% of Black workers were jobless.
Ridley-Thomas said his proposal comes in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officers, which set off nationwide protests against structural racism and discrimination, asymmetrical consolidation of power, extreme wealth and income inequity — “all of which disproportionately disadvantage Black people.”
This week, the heads of various Los Angeles County departments 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,” the statement read. “We stand against racism in any form and pledge to use our offices to advance racial and social equity, diversity and fairness.”
Ridley-Thomas said he wants his motion to be a catalyst for eliminating perpetual racism against all races and ethnicities, like the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was initiated by African Americans.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion in April 2017 that was authored by Ridley-Thomas to enhance implicit bias training for Los Angeles County employees.
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