October 13, 2016

Statement from the Race to Equity Project

Race to Equity is aware of the conversations that have taken place over the last three weeks regarding our report on racial disparities in Dane County and in response to a statement that was made at the Board of Estimates meeting by the Mayor two weeks ago. Subsequently, Race to Equity participated in a meeting with community leaders, the Mayor and Mayoral staff. In the course of that meeting we (Race to Equity) did not agree to jointly release a report with the Mayor, nor have we since. Rather, we agreed to continue to work with the Mayor’s office, (as we have been doing for the last three years since the release of the report) while we continue to work alongside the county, the community, the private and non-profit sectors to assess data, discuss policy, and ultimately, collectively and collaboratively as a community work together to address racial disparities. For those who are wondering, we look forward to releasing a comprehensive updated report in 2017.

Moreover, the original purpose of the Race to Equity Baseline report was to add value to discussions in our community related to racial justice by building and expanding on prior reports and subsequent efforts to address and draw attention to racial disparities between African Americans and whites in the county. However, the Race to Equity report – with its 40+ indicators in areas like economics, education, criminal justice, health, and mobility – does not, and cannot, capture the full spectrum of experiences of Black members of our community. Our report does not allow us to describe experiences with racial discrimination: what it feels like to be the only, or one of a few people of color in the office; the anxiety of feeling profiled, as well as the myriad of other lived experiences of people of color not articulated in the report. At best, it is an important, but incomplete picture.

We stand in solidarity with other organizations who are also committed to advancing racial equity in our community. Organizations such as: Justified Anger who are working to ensure that the voice and experiences of Black community members remain centered; Young Gifted and Black and Freedom, Inc who have surveyed members of our community and have attempted to reveal often unheard perspectives regarding feelings of safety and trust towards the police; the Latino Consortium For Action who are working to bring to light the experiences and conditions that those among our local Latinx community face; the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) who took the initiative to actually survey employers in our county to get a more concrete picture of the nature of diversity and inclusion across all levels of work in our community; or the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) who have produced deep and rich analysis of the relationship between where one lives, and the opportunities they can access within our capital region. Madison city government has also made the choice to dig deeper, conducting its own racial climate survey among its employees earlier this year (and we know there are numerous efforts underway at the county level as well. )

As always, when choosing to name some groups, it is inevitably at the exclusion of others. Be clear we do this with no ill will. Our goal here is to point out that there is a lot of work happening in our community, and to get the best sense of the struggles related to achieving the transformative vision that so many have for our community. We invite those of you who have not yet reviewed the listed reports, to do so. In addition, you can learn more about initiatives like these occurring in our community by reviewing our community impact list. And if we’ve missed anything, please help us learn more by submitting information on the initiative here.

Ultimately, the goal of our work is to eliminate racial disparities in our community, and to do so in such a way that increases the experiences of well-being and justice for every one of us. Unfortunately, we have not reached this goal yet as a community, and there is much work that remains. That is our commitment, priority and mission.

The Race to Equity Project Team