Toward Racial Equity

Beginning with the structural and historic violence perpetrated against the Black community through the enshrinement of slavery by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, through the Civil War, the Black Codes, Jim Crow, Plessy v. Ferguson, the convict lease system, Bull Connor’s dogs, redlining, COINTELPRO, the Tuskegee Experiments, ghettoization and financial evisceration through zoning and eminent domain abuse, the clearing of Reno, jump outs, property-tax-based education funding, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the continued demonization of the Black poor, it is clear that we have a long way to go as a society to create a racially equitable society.  The racial and economic inequity we see across the District today is both a symptom and the not unexpected result of policies instituted to preserve and protect racist power structures.  These threads of racial inequity are as interwoven in our policies as they are in our society.  

But we as a city have been working together, in fits and starts, to address racial inequity and we must continue to do so.  The path to racial equity requires a cross-sector approach to eliminate social, economic, and environmental conditions that thwart upward mobility and compromise well-being.  As a threshold matter, I would like to extend the Council’s required Racial Equity Impact Assessments to our budget processes. To further our redress, we must examine all our policies, from education to transportation to criminal justice to healthcare and beyond:

Equity in Education: Tackle the Achievement Gap  

  • Fully fund “underperforming” schools

  • Institute a moratorium on closing public schools

  • Increase the prevalence of trauma-informed and restorative practices across DC schools

  • Prioritize the modernization and repair of schools that serve a high percentage of at-risk students

  • Provide substantial wraparound services for families of at-risk youth at our school facilities

 

Transportation Equity

  • Extend bus service to historically areas underserved by transit that have seen economic underinvestment

  • Provide a $100 SmarTrip balance each month to any DC resident

  • Expand Capital Bikeshare for All to include those at or below 400% of the federal poverty guidelines 

  • Complete the DC Streetcar network 

 

Criminal Justice

  • End the school-to-prison pipeline through restorative justice, trauma-informed practices in schools, and support at school for at-risk youth and families 

  • Examine how to expand and improve the Attorney General’s Restorative Justice program

  • Mandate implicit bias trainings for all who work in the criminal justice system

 

Health and Healthcare Equity

  • Fully fund the Birth-to-3 Act

  • Increase DC Medicaid and DC Healthcare Alliance postpartum coverage 

  • Expand community-based healthcare options, including maternal healthcare 

  • Link healthcare providers to connect residents with social services

  • Provide incentives to grocery stores to open in food deserts across the District