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CoralMercado

CEP303
FinalPaper
6/2/15

RacialEquityStrategiesinSeattleandPortland

Theory:
Incommonparlance,racismisoftenthoughtofaspersonaldislikeorprejudiceagainsta
particularraceorethnicgroup,butthereisalsostructuralandinstitutionalizedracismwhich
oftenhasfarmorelongterm,negativeconsequencesforpeopleofcolor.In2004Seattlewasthe
firstcityintheUnitedStatestoundertakeanefforttofocusexplicitlyoninstitutionalracism,but
nowtherearevariouscitiesallovercountrythathavebeguntheirownracialequityinitiatives.
Whileallracialequitystrategiesmustbeadirectanswertolocalizedconditions,therearebest
practicesthatareemergingfromthesenewpoliciesandpracticesthatcaninformtheeffortsof
otherU.S.citiesinthefuture.Since2012SeattlehashostedthreeNationalGoverningforRacial
EquityConferencestohelpsharesuccesses,struggles,andlearningbetweencities.Iwillexplore
thesebestpracticesandbycomparingtheeffortsofthecities,SeattleandPortlandtotheAspen
InstituteRoundtableonCommunityChanges
ConstructingARacialEquityTheoryofChange
aswellas
LocalProgresss
PolicyBrief:RacialEquityInOurCities.
ConstructingARacialEquityTheoryofChangeoutlinesbroadstepsthatcanbetailored
toanyjurisdictionthatwantstotakeonracialequitypoliciesorinitiativesandincludesa

workbooksectiontoguidepolicymakersthroughthecreationofsuchaninitiative.Thefirststep
istoclearlydefinearacialequityoutcomesstatementthatconveysthedesiredoutcomesinyour
area.Itisimportanttothinkaboutwhatracialequitywilllooklikeinonesjurisdiction,
measurableimpactstotrackprogress,andaspecifiedtimeline.Oncethedesiredoutcome
statementiscreated,itcanhelpfocusandguideeffortstowardsmoreracialequity.Thenextstep
istosetprioritiesbythinkingaboutthebuildingblocksthatarenecessaryforthedesiredracial
equityoutcomestobecomereality.Duringtheinitialstagesofthisstep,itisnecessarytothink
ascomprehensivelyaspossibleandthensetprioritiesbasedonthecapacityofones
organization.Inputfromexpertsandcommunitystakeholderswhoarefamiliarwiththeissues
thataretobeaddressedbytheinitiativewillbevaluableinthisprocess.Thenitisnecessaryto
identifythePublicPolicies,InstitutionalPractices,andCulturalRepresentationsthateither
supportorhinderthebuildingblocksthathavebeenprioritizedinthepreviousstep.Toidentify
thesePPRs,significantpolicyrelatedresearchandinstitutionalanalysisisnecessarytocreatea
comprehensivelistthatcanbenarroweddowntothosePPRsthatarethemostcriticalsupports
orbarrierstoeachoftheselectedbuildingblocks.OncethesePPRsareidentifieditisessential
tomapouttheindividualswhohavethepowerandinfluencetoshapethosePPRsaswellas
thosewhomightresistoneseffortsforchange.Familiarizingoneselfwiththetypeof
governancestructurethatwillbeengagedinisalsokey.Atthispointintheprocessaspecific
planofactionhasbeencreatedwithstrategicprioritiesbasedontheorganizationalcapacity
available.RacialequityworkentailstakingactionstochangeorsupportPPRsanditislikelyto
requireidentifyingallieswhowillcollaborateinandsupportyouractions.Thesestepsarenot
presentedasablueprintforsuccessineverysituation,butasaguidetohelppolicymakersask

therightquestionsduringvisioningandplanningstagesoftheirinitiatives(ConstructingA
RacialEquityTheoryofChange,2009).
LocalProgress's
PolicyBrief:RacialEquityInOurCities
outlineskeylessonsthathave
beenlearnedbylocalgovernmentsthathaveimplementedracialequitystrategies.Beforeany
meaningfulworktowardsracialequitycanoccuritmustbebuiltuponacriticalanalysisthat
acknowledgesthedifferencebetweenindividual,institutional,andstructuralracismaswellas
implicitandexplicitbiases.Electedofficialsmustrealizethatwhileitisimportanttocreate
legislationorinitiativestoaddressracialinequity,thecommitmentoftheirentirejurisdictionis
necessaryforsustainablechangestotakeplaceandtheinfrastructuretosupportthesechanges
mustbecreatedandimplemented.Jurisdictionscannotsimplydismantleracialinequitiesby
wishingittobeso,theyneedRacialEquityToolstolayoutprocessesandquestionsthatwill
guidefuturedevelopment,implementationandevaluationofpolicies,initiatives,programs,and
budgetissues(LocalProgress,2014).Tobeaccountablejurisdictionsshouldcreateasetof
metricsthatcanmeasuredforabaseline,informtheirgoals,andthenbemeasuredatappropriate
intervalstotrackprogressandsuccessofprogrammaticandpolicychanges.Inaddition,local
governmentmustworkinpartnershipwiththecommunitiesandinstitutionsonwhichthey
wouldliketoaffectchange.Finally,itisimportanttorememberthatwhilechangecanbeaslow
process,withtheproperalignmentofpoliticalpriorities,policyandbehavioralchangescanlead
toimportantandnecessarysocietalshifts.Centeringraceindiscussionsaboutequitycanbe
calledtargeteduniversalismbecauseinreality,whileracialinequityspecificallytargetspeople
ofcolor,asystemthatfailscommunitiesofcolor,failseveryone.Andconversely,asystemthat
supportspeopleofcolor,supportsallmembersofsociety(Daymont,2014).


CompareandContrastofSeattlesRaceandSocialJusticeInitiativeandPortlandsRacial
EquityStrategyGuide:
SeattlesRaceandSocialJusticeInitiative(RSJI)wascreatedin2004andwasinitially
onlyconcernedwiththecityofSeattlesinternalprogramsandoperations,butithasbeen
updatedtwicesincethen,eachtimeexpandingthescopeoftheinitiative.Initsinceptionthe
cityofSeattleusedtheinitiativetocreateaframeworktoaddressinstitutionalracism,andcreate
structures,tools,andtrainingtolaythegroundworkforracialequityintheCityswork(
RACE
&SOCIALJUSTICEINITIATIVE20152017,2015)
.
In2009itwasupdatedtoexpandtoaddressracialinequitiesinareasofeducation,
criminaljustice,anddevelopmentinpartnershipwithotherinstitutionsandtheaffected
communities.ItwasinthisversionthatmetricsusedtotrackandmeasureimpactoftheRSJI
werefirstimplemented(
RACE&SOCIALJUSTICEINITIATIVE20152017,2015)
.
In2014theRSJIcompletedathreeyearplanthatisfocusedonequitystrategiestomake
tangibledifferencesinpeopleslives,toworkwiththecommunity,andpartnerwithother
governmentsandinstitutions,theprivatesector,andphilanthropytobeleadersinregionaland
nationalnetworksforracialequity.ThisthreeyearplanwascreatedafterMayorEdwardMurray
signedanExecutiveOrderonApril3,2014,torequireCitystafftouseRSJItoolstoassess
racialequityprogressinworkoutcomesaswellasinternalpractices.Todevelopthe20152017
strategicplan,RSJIstaffheldthirtysevenlisteningsessionswithcityemployeesand
communitymembersfindoutwhichracialequityissuesweremostimportantandwhatideas
theyhadforhowRSJIcouldaddressthem.Thegoaloftheselisteningsessions,aswellas

increasedcommunityoutreach,istoincreasecommunityaccountabilityandcommunity
empowerment.Theactionitemstoachievethesegoalsare:toestablishgoals,trackoutcomes
overtimeandreportannuallyontheCitysprogressapplyaracialequitylenstoallofthecitys
workthroughrequiringtheuseoftheRacialEquityToolkitandtheInclusiveOutreachand
PublicEngagementGuideestablishandstrengthenEquityTeamsforEducation,Criminal
Justice&PublicSafety,andEquitableDevelopmentIncreasecommitmenttoreflectcommunity
demographicsintheworkplaceSupportdepartmentsinternalRSJIChangeTeamswithnew
resourcestoengagetheirdepartmentsonRSJIChallengeCityleadership,includingmanagers
andsupervisors,tomoreconsistentlymodeltheprinciplesandpracticesofRSJIEstablishan
RSJIAssessmentProgramtoreviewdepartmentsworkandCityinitiatives.Theassessmentwill
helpdepartmentsprioritizeracialequityinallaspectsoftheirworkfromworkplacepractices
andhiringtooutreach,programmingandpolicyusetheRacialEquityFundtohelpcommunity
groupsdevelopcreativestrategiestobuildracialequitybyaddressingstructuralracismleadthe
RaceandSocialJusticeCommunityRoundtableprovideRSJtrainingtoallCityboards,
commissionsandadvisorygroupstoensurethattheseappointedcommunityrepresentatives
applyaracialequitylensintheiradvisoryrolesexpandtheCommunityInstituteforRacial
Equitytostrengthencommunityleadershipandactionforracialjusticethroughtrainingand
supportbuildpublicwillforracialequitythroughpartnershipsandspecialprojects,including
artsandculture,toachievestructuralchangestrengthenSeattlesrelationshipwithother
citiesinthePacificNorthwestandacrossthecountrytopromotegovernmentsroleinthe
racialjusticemovementpartnerwiththebusinesscommunitytoraiseawarenessofthebenefits
ofracialequitytotheeconomicandsocialhealthofSeattleandourregionsupportphilanthropic

investmentsinmovementbuildingandsystemschangeworkledbypeopleofcolor(
RACE&
SOCIALJUSTICEINITIATIVE20152017,2015)
.
TheRacialEquityToolkitusedbytheCityofSeattleStepsare:setoutcomesinvolve
stakeholdersandanalyzedatadeterminebenefitand/orburdenadvanceopportunityor
minimizeharmevaluate,raiseracialawareness,beaccountablereportback.Thismirrorsthe
AspenInstituteRoundtableonCommunityChanges
ConstructingARacialEquityTheoryof
Change
almoststepbystep(
StepbyStepInstructionSheet)
.
InAprilof2012PortlandsCityCounciladoptedafiveyearactionplanwhichincludes
twentyactionitemstosupportracialequityinthecityofPortland.Eachactionitemlistspartners
thatthecitywillbeworkingwithtocarryouttheseactions.Theseactionitemsaretoenforce
TitleVItracktheinformationneededtounderstanddisparitiesevaluateequityimpacts
improveevaluationmethodsmitigatefordisparitiesimproveinvolvementleadershiptraining
languageandculturalinterpretationsharebestpracticescollaborationbetweencitybureaus,
partners,equityadvocates,andthecommunitytrainingcityemployeesaroundintercultural
competencyandinstitutionalizedracismwhileincorporatingthistrainingintotheirperformance
reviewscommunitydialoguediverseadvisoryboardsimplementDisabilitiesTransitionPlan
collectdataondisabilityrelateddisparitiesCivilRightsActcomplianceAmericanswith
DisabilitiesActcompliancereportingBureauequityplansContractingandbureauequityand
communityresourceaccess(
RACIALEQUITYSTRATEGYGUIDE,2012)
.
SeattleandPortlandsstrategiesareverysimilarinmostrespects,atleastinpartbecause
PortlandhasusedSeattleandmanyothercitiesastemplatesfortheirownracialequityworkbut
thereareacoupledistinctionsthatshouldbemade.

OnekeydifferenceinPortlandsfiveyearactionplanisthatitspecificallymentions
AmericanswithDisabilitiesActcomplianceandtrackingdataondisabilityrelateddisparitiesas
apartoftheirequitystrategy(
RACIALEQUITYSTRATEGYGUIDE,2012)
.Thisisanaspect
thatissadlylackingfromtheSeattlesRSJI.Whileracialinequitiesareoftentheresultof
invisiblebarriers,forpeoplewithdisabilitiesthesebarriersareveryvisceral.Furthermore,
communitiesofcolorarealsoaffectedbydisabilitysothesecategoriesarenotmutually
exclusive.
BecauseSeattlesRSJIismucholderandgonethroughvariousiterations,therearemore
specificpartnerships,teams,andtoolsthathavealreadybeencreatedbutthatarenotbeingused
totheirfullcapacity.Incontrast,Portlandisstartingwithacomprehensivelistofpartnerships,
teamandtoolsthatneedtobedevelopedanditwillbeinterestingtoseehowwelltheseare
implemented.
Seattlehasalsoconductedbiannualemployeeandcommunitysurveysthatwillbeused
asonemetrictoevaluatetheworkthecityisdoing.Theresultsofthe2012employeesurvey
showedthatwhile89%ofcityemployeessurveyedhadabasicunderstandingofraceandsocial
justice,only43%ofemployeeswereawareoftheRacialEquityToolkit,whichisnowrequired
tobeusedbyallcityemployees(
RaceandSocialJusticeInitiativeEmployeeSurvey2012
SummaryReport,2012)
.Furthermore,whilecommunityengagementandinvolvementhave
improved,inthecommunitysurveyAfricanAmericanswerethegroupleastlikelytosaythey
felttheirparticipationwasvaluedat6%.Additionally,31%ofnonwhiteparticipantswho
identifiedasLGBQfeltthattheirparticipationwasappreciatedonlyalittleornotatall(
Cityof

SeattleRacialEquityCommunitySurvey,2014)
.ItwouldbeinterestingifPortlandgathered
similardataacoupleyearsaftertheinitialimplementationoftheirfiveyearactionplan.

DiscussionandRecommendations:
BothSeattleandPortlandhavecreatedcomprehensiveandspecificplanswithcleargoals
toachieveracialequity.IntermsofSeattlesmostrecentstrategicplanfor20142017hasadded
morespecificmetricsofsuccesssothattheycouldbemoreaccountabletopeopleofcolor
communities.InitsinceptiontheRSJIdidnthaveanyreferencesforthekindofbestpractices
whichwouldmaketheirracialequityoutcomespossibleandsoitisunderstandablethatinitially
someoftheseweremissingsuchas,metricsofsuccessandcommunityinvolvement.However,
thebasisofthisinitiativehasbeenacriticalanalysisofinstitutionalracismandtherolethatlocal
governmentplaysineradicatingracialinequitieswhichiskey.
Othersuccessarethesurveysofthecommunityandcityemployees,thecreationofthe
RacialEquityToolkit,theinclusionsofdataandmetrics,andpartneringwithcommunity
organizations.
Someaspectsthatcouldbeimproveduponinthecomingyearswouldbeharnessingthe
capacityofCityofSeattlethroughmoreconsistentuseoftheRacialEquityToolkit.Thisisa
powerfultoolthatfollowstheAspenInstitutes
ConstructingARacialEquityTheoryofChange
andhasthepotentialtocreatemoreraciallyequitableworkdonebytheCity.
Additionally,morespecificgoalsbasedonracialequitymetricsbaselineswouldalso
makemeasuringtheprogressoftheinitiativeeasier.

Finally,inthenextiterationoftheRSJItheinclusionofADAcomplianceaswellasdata
andmetricstrackingthedisparitiesshouldbeconsidered.Throughpartnershipwithlocal
communityandadvocacyorganizationsthatfocusontheseissues,equityfordisabledpeople,
andspecificallydisabledpeopleofcolor,willmakeSeattleamoreequitablecity.Acitythat
supportsitsdisabledpeople,supportsallitscitizensmorefully.

Bibliography:
"CityofSeattleRacialEquityCommunitySurvey."
CityofSeattleRacialEquityCommunity
Survey
,March2014.AccessedMay25,2015.
http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/2013CommunitySurveyRSJI.p
df.
"ConstructingARacialEquityTheoryofChange."
RoundtableOnCommunityChange
,
September2009.AccessedMay25,2015.
http://www.aspeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/content/images/Roundtable%20on%20
Community%20Change%20RETOC.pdf.
Daymont,ThomasN."RacialEquity:TheResponsibilityandOpportunityforLocal
Government."
Demography
17,no.4(March2014):379.AccessedMay26,2015.
doi:10.2307/2061152.
"RACE&SOCIALJUSTICEINITIATIVE20152017."
RSJI
,2015.AccessedMay25,2015.
http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/rsji20152017plan.pdf.
"RaceandSocialJusticeInitiativeEmployeeSurvey2012SummaryReport."
RaceandSocial
JusticeInitiativeEmployeeSurvey2012SummaryReport
,March2013.AccessedMay
25,2015.
http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/RSJI2012EmployeeSurveyS
UMMARYREPORTFinal.pdf.

"RACIALEQUITYSTRATEGYGUIDE."
PortlandSPartnershipForRacialEquity
,2012.
AccessedMay26,2015.
http://ulpdx.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/02/RACIALEQUITYSTRATEGYGUIDE
FINAL.pdf.
"StepbyStepInstructionSheet."
RacialEquityToolkit
.AccessedMay25,2015.
http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/RacialEquityToolkit_StepbyStep
InstructionSheet.pdf.