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Discussing a Movement in Time with Brenda Shockley, Los Angeles’ First Chief Equity Officer
By Betti Halsell Contributing Writer
Published July 16, 2020

Mayor Eric Garcetti appoints Black woman to lead Racial Equity Action Plan

Chief Equity Officer and Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity Brenda Shockley. (Photo Courtesy of Brenda Shockley)

Greater lengths are being taken in order to gain equality across all parts of Los Angeles, as Mayor Eric Garcetti creates a Racial Equity Action Plan; a Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity, with Brenda Shockley at the helm. In her new role as chief equity officer, Shockley looks to build bridges that allocate resources and leverage within city hiring, promotion, and construct a solid platform for meaningful change.

Shockley has provided over 20 years of service, dedicating the majority of her waking hours as president of Community Build, where she played a critical role during the noted social uprising in 1992. She had her hand in restoring South L.A. after the civil storm due to police brutality had passed. Shockley also holds the title of Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity; she has led initiatives within the Garcetti administrations that investigate inequalities within minimum wage, free community college, and housing.

On Juneteenth, Mayor Garcetti added one more badge; he announced Shockley as the first Chief Equity Officer.  She is now sitting with dual roles as Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity and Chief Officer of Equity. Her background indicates that she is a well-rounded advocate for many pressing matters, such as the unsheltered pandemic, community revitalization, education, and equal employment opportunity.

Garcetti shared within the announcement, “Our city is hungry for change, and we must knit racial justice and affirmative action into the fabric of our policies, our institutions, and our society.” Shockley and Garcetti are in alliance with making the City Mayor’s office a model for true racial and social equality. The movement towards healing within the Black community has penetrated Los Angeles City Hall.

Amid her entrance into the role, Shockley stated, I am honored to serve as the city’s first Chief Equity Officer, and I welcome the opportunity to continue to fight for racial equity and against injustice,” said the new Deputy Mayor. “I am proud to work for an administration that recognizes it must start at City Hall if Los Angeles is to become a model of racial fairness.”

Shining light on the combination of roles and responsibilities Shockley carries, there is an inquisition of balance and measurement of pressure. The inequalities against people of color were not created by the community itself, but there is applied weight brought to many in community leadership. Shockley responded to this inquiry, “In some ways the roles are complimentary because it’s what I ‘ve been fighting for since I been in the mayor’s office.“

She continued, “As the Deputy Mayor of Opportunity, our whole program is based on equity … we were poised to move ahead with an equity agenda …” Shockley addressed that her standing as Deputy Mayor has not only paved a way for the new role of Chief Equity Officer, it created an impetus towards new sources to further her fight for equality.

The Racial Equity Action Plan is a multi-dimensional solution, looking to cover many different spears of racial discrimination and shield underserved communities. It looks to answer sharp topics of inequality within employment, lack of knowledge or resource in property ownership, and many more negative connotations that have been highlighted during this global pandemic.

These steps towards equality start with public officials and review of policy. Shockley is directly linked to one of the major community uprisings that took place in 1992, she shared her thoughts on the current social climate that has pinched an international nerve, “You can push the pendulum only so far before it swings back and demands a place,”  Shockley said.

Brenda Shockley (File Photo)

One of the first items on the agenda that Shockley will unsheathe is reform to police tactics. This will coincide with the Mayor’s declaration of 250-million dollars of the City’s budget being funneled back into the Black Community, towards social services, youth development, health, housing, and the overall recovery of underserved communities.

The role as first Chief Equity Officer represents a milestone for change that has been reached in local government; Shockley shared her thoughts behind the meaning of this achievement and how she looks to bring forth the best results, “This role of the city’s first equity officer is sort of an acceleration and an outgrowth of what I’ve been doing as Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunities.  The fact is, when you work in areas of economic opportunity, particularly in the portfolio I have – which is family source centers, work source centers, re-entry program, free college promise; all of those are really very much of an extension of what I’ve done my entire career. “

She continued, “I have this sense of hope, this abiding sense of hope, because I see what in the past has been a moment in time.  I absolutely see this as a movement-in-time.” Shockley further explained the fight against injustice across all scales of living as a Black American, post chattel slavery, is being looked at with no way of turning a blind eye.

Shockley plans to work with different departments, which include the Civil and Human Rights Commission. The focal point of the City Equity Branch is inclusive and designed to bring a generational line of equality and solidarity within opportunity for people of color and of all spectrums of the community.

The system Shockley has the power to create is looking to be all inclusive; she’s starting with creating a baseline that is grounded in data and research. From her standpoint, the locomotive for change cannot move forward if we haven’t studied where it’s been. Shockley stated, “I feel so moved to have the opportunity to be a part of turning this journey in the right direction, to really march into the future, unapologetically, and open about our goals and our objectives …”

Categories: Local | News (Business) | Political
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