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L.A. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Tackles Racial Inequality within Los Angeles County
By Betti Halsell, Contributing Writer
Published July 23, 2020

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the Virtual Meeting about Anti-racist Los Angeles County Motion. (Screen Shot)

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas orchestrated a six-page measurement addressing institutionalized racism among the county walls of Los Angeles. It is a call for a recourse and a movement for Antiracist sensibility. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas held a virtual briefing, accompanied by Senior Deputy for Human Services and Child Welfare Emily Williams and Chief Deputy Dorinne Jordan to break down the benchmarks of the “Establishing an Antiracist Los Angeles County” Policy Agenda. During the wake of health and wellbeing, the time is now to act on the need for equality for people of color in Los Angeles.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas opens his measurement from a quote from Professor Cornel West, “Race Matters” (1993) describing an ideology of not just addressing Black people problems but facing the flaws within American society. There has not been a formal address, acknowledging the blood spilled among the road to the creation of this country. The current motion is looking to cut through the callus that grew over the incomplete work to eradicate the residue that was left behind due to the chattel slavery conducted in this country.

This movement was made to dive into a serious conversation about race. In order to see meaningful change among the community, structural and systemic racism must be ripped out from the root. The principle of this measurement stands on the accountability of handling racism from an institutional level and creating an action to solve the inequities among underserved communities. This measurement carries the weights of the community into a place where it can be lifted and those who are in need can be supported.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas described the all-inclusive motion as a bit dense, he stated, “In terms of the directives, because of the intent, we have to go deep into the bureaucracy to magnify transparency and to build more avenues for accountability.” The Policy Agenda of Establishing an Antiracist Los Angeles County will be up for consideration among all the board members July 21. The community can voice their opinion about the motion by calling 844-767-5651 and the extension is 9676434.

Past efforts are working as steppingstones for this motion to come to pass. Much of the research surrounding the unsheltered population in relation to race was conducted in 2018, it brought sobering data to light; 34% of the unsheltered population are Black people. The measurement included other studies such as African Americans account for 11% of COVID-19 related fatalities; (County Department of Public Health, July 2020), 27% of LAPD cases in 2017 where someone was shot or seriously injured in the county were people of color; (California Department of Justice, 2018.) Supervisor Ridley-Thomas addressed that this should not be.

Sr. Deputy Williams and Chief Deputy Jordan broke down the benchmarks within the motion and some noted directives are the following: “Recognize, affirm, and declare that racism is a matter of public health in Los Angeles County and that racism against Black people has reached crisis proportions. Direct the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to establish an eighth Board-directed priority to address the elimination of racism and bias in the county. Direct the CEO and other departments to evaluate existing county policies, practices, operations, and programs through a lens of racial equity…”

There are nine benchmarks in total that calls for accountability and action among the lines of public leadership. This motion is a flag planted to change the course of history and hold Los Angeles elected officials accountable to what is happening within the community. Department heads will be expected to look at their branches, search for areas of weakness due to inequality or imbalances and develop a goal to strengthen equality and eradicate any sense of misconduct with a racial lens.

“This is a moment of unprecedented consequence and unusual global realities and therefore we need to act accordingly.” Ridley-Thomas further explained within the backdrop of a global pandemic and heightened sense of awareness of racial inequality, those in seats of monitoring the health and wellbeing in all communities, need to address the division in disproportioned resources that are being seen clear within the affects of COVID-19.

Ridley-Thomas used other grass roots organizations as example of bodies of people under the same goal of equality and what can be accomplished under a racial lens. He described many outright disparities within the Black Community and expressed this should not be looked at as normal or simple data. These are livelihoods that do not share the same human rights as their neighbors.

This measurement is to bring racial issues into the walls of power and create energy around investigating and resolving these issues in a real way. Ridley-Thomas expressed this motion as a self-examination among the L.A. Board of Supervisors, the first of its kind within 150 years of governance. The goal is to create no area to run away from the inequities that are blatantly visible within underserved communities.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas stated, “We need explicit action against institutionalized inequities and or inequality in this region.” The motion along with its data is on the table on July 21, it is a pilot to a new chapter of equality and hopefully serve as an example for the rest of the world to follow.

 

 

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