Racial disparities compromise the life chances of far too many children and families of color and thwart our common interest that every child grows up healthy, safe and successful.
The primary mission of its Race to Equity (R2E) is to build a fairer, more just and thriving community by narrowing the gaps in the opportunities and outcomes between families of color and the larger community.
Dane County is often considered one of the best places to live and raise a family in America. In 1996 CNN/Money Magazine listed Madison as the best city to live in America; in 2007, Middleton also received the honor of the being the top city to live in America by CNN/Money Magazine; and 2011 Men’s Health Magazine ranked Madison as the most educated city in America. Despite these and many other positive attributes, Dane County repeatedly ranks near the bottom in national studies on the extent of racial disparities in economic status, health, education, justice and child welfare for African Americans as well as for Hispanics and Asians. The fact that African Americans constitute less than 7% of the county’s total population means that their poor outcomes are obscured by the generally very positive outcomes experienced by the far larger white population. The county’s aggregate “success” has actually made it harder to build and sustain a broad awareness and sense of urgency about the much more negative experience of our minority population.
Addressing racial disparities is critical, not only as a matter of simple fairness, but also for our county’s collective well-being. Narrowing such disparities will help level the playing field for all citizens and, in turn, will make Madison and surrounding areas a more supportive environment for high achievement by all our children and families, including those of color. This is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Unless our entire community is thriving, the long term social, cultural and economic fate of our county will be far less promising. In the increasingly globalized world of the 21st Century, only a Madison that is able to attract and support success for individuals and families of diverse backgrounds will be able to retain its long cherished status as one of the nation’s great places to live, study, work and raise children.