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County Supervisors Pass Anti-Racism Motion

July 21, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Hollywood protest.
Hollywood protest. Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Establishing an Antiracist Los Angeles County Policy Agenda. 

“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 Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion, said via a statement. “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.”

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The motion declares that racism is a public health issue. This is something Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, has also said repeatedly when pointing to disparities among Black and Latinx residents of L.A. County, who are more likely to contract and die from COVID-19 than whites. 

According to the motion, the U.S. has never fully addressed slavery, the “original sin of its colonizers.” This history is deeply embedded in the U.S. and has continued to negatively impact Black Americans through the Jim Crow laws, voter suppression, redlining, segregation, mass incarceration, police brutality, and other facets of institutional and systemic racism.

Additionally, the motion notes the disparity illustrated by COVID-19—11% of the county’s COVID fatalities have been Black. Black people represent 27% of those shot or seriously injured by law enforcement in L.A. County in 2017, and 34% of those experiencing homelessness per the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA) count in 2019. Comparatively, Black people make up 9% of the region’s total population.

Per the motion, the county will evaluate its current practices, operations, policies, and programs. The county will make any necessary legislative, policy, and programmatic changes to sectors including health, housing, employment, public safety, and justice. The county will look for any barriers Black people face when seeking career advancement within county departments. The County will work with LAHSA to implement the Ad Hoc Committee for Black People Experiencing Homelessness’s recommendations.

Saying all of that is one thing, but doing it is another. So, progress will be tracked. Every year, the State of Black Los Angeles County will report on these efforts.

You can read the complete report here.

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