Racial Equity at the Municipal Level

There’s a new movement for fostering racial equity at the municipal level, including local governments, universities, and community institutions. The movement is being led by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a joint project of the Center for Social Inclusion in NYC and the Haas Institute for a Fair  & Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley. Last month, GARE teamed up with the National League of Cities’ Race, Equity, And Leadership (REAL) initiative (REAL focuses on elected officials, while GARE focuses on appointed officials and government employees). This gives GARE more resources, more legitimacy, and more direct connections with local governments.

Municipalities, regional governments, and independent authorities can become members of GARE. They benefit from the resources produced by GARE, as well as from ongoing communications and conferences, the sharing of ideas and experiences.

So far, the only GARE members in New England are Boston and Brookline, MA. In a state with so many racial equity issues, the cities of CT would benefit from membership. Perhaps, even moreso, this work could be done at the level of the council of governments (COG), since inequities are greatest within urban-suburban areas.

One of the most important precedents for what GARE is doing is Seattle’s 2005 Race and Social Justice Initiative. Seattle appears to be the first city to employ a Racial Equity Toolkit like the one on GARE’s website. But this approach is also working in smaller cities, such as Bloomington, MN and Grand Rapids, MI.

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