On Antiracism: Let Your Voice be Heard

With the Board of Supervisors making a historic decision to establish an Antiracist Policy agenda, Los Angeles County is inviting the public to make their voices heard and join in the conversation about how to address institutional racism.

The County Chief Executive Office’s Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative has launched a community engagement website – https://ceo.lacounty.gov/antiracism/ — and encourages people to email their comments, questions or ideas to race-equity@ceo.lacounty.gov.

On July 21, 2020, the Board adopted a sweeping initiative that boldly articulates an anti-racist agenda that will guide, govern and increase the County’s ongoing commitment to fighting racism in all its dimensions, especially racism that systemically and systematically affects Black residents.

Authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and unanimously approved by all five Supervisors, the motion prioritizes an anti-racist Los Angeles County policy agenda and calls on the County’s CEO to develop a strategic plan and policy platform.

“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 when the motion was approved. “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.”

County CEO Sachi Hamai, said, “This is our opportunity as a County to meaningfully address not only systemic anti-Black racism, but to take our place at the forefront of the anti-racist movement that will define our time. From addressing the devastating impacts of racism on public health to remedying the tragic disparities in housing, education and employment, we are setting out to overcome some of the biggest challenges our County has ever faced. This is a daunting mission we are embarking on, but I know that our County has the heart and determination to get the job done.”

Noting the legacy of slavery continues to disadvantage African Americans, the Antiracism motion called 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 called 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.

The motion came 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 Mark Ridley-Thomas pays tribute to civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 27th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit in January 2020. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors