No Going Back, a unique directive by the Committee for Greater LA, is calling on County officials to prioritize the most marginalized communities during the pandemic recovery and beyond.
The group released the report “The Path to Justice Runs Through Equity: Ending Anti-Black Racism in Los Angeles” to call for immediate action by state legislators and community leaders and stakeholders that includes specific recommendations for addressing institutional racism.
After roughly eight months of meetings with residents of whom have a “shared experience” confronting systemic racism, the report contains a “policy roadmap” with suggestions for ongoing philanthropy, government reform and nonprofit input arranged around the following priority issues:
—Economics and poverty relief
—Housing and homelessness
—Education and youth development
—Mass incarceration and police brutality
—Environmentally safe and healthy neighbor
—Advocacy and political power.
Policies to end anti-Black racism is a prime objective of the report. According to Miguel A. Santana, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation and chair of the Committee for Greater LA, the report “hold a mirror” to sub-standard city and county policies that inadvertently affect marginalized persons who are primarily within communities of color.
“It was critical to us that this effort delve deeply into many of our community’s aspirations and needs,” said April Varrett, president of Service Employees International Union and chair of the Black Experience Action Team. “It is important to ensure we attended to the vast diversity in our community.”
There are an additional five tenants that highlight the intersectionality if issues that are of major concern in bringing about policy shifts that could benefit a wide swath of communities including:
—Universal basic income
—Anti-discrimination policy enforcement
—Culturally competent care and services
—Closing the racial wealth gap and
—robust data collection and cross-sector
Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, deans professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at USC, explained the need for an expansion of intersectionality and access to quality data if the goals of the report are to be met.
“The report proposes city-wide policies that can have an impact on multiple issues facing our community,” she said. “We believe designing systems around the priorities of Black folks will create more equitable systems for all.”
The report also includes a number of policy recommendations to address discrimination and the needs of the LGBTQ and gender-non-conforming community, as well as immigrant family members and family members who may have intellectual and physical disabilities.
In addressing this issue, the report details a 10-year “foundational vision” that will set a pathway to achieving an “anti-Black racism-free” Los Angeles. An important aspect of this goal means a strategic effort to end institutional policies and their impacts that facilitate the ongoing threats to Black life, communities, and institutions.
Stemming “procedural anti-Black racism” focuses on ending the organizational, governmental and community-based decision-making practices that initially profess openness and neutrality but instead operate to place Black lives, communities and institutions at the “end of every conversation” or to “exclude them altogether.”
Additionally, the report notes that the unemployment rate of Black Los Angeles in May 2021 is comparable to the 2008 Great Recession despite the fact that a “solid majority of Black persons participate in the labor force. These “unequal life chances” for Black people, according to the report, are brought on via wage theft, migratory displacement (i.e. gentrification) and systemic wealth loss.
A state reparations task force, it is suggested, along with a Los Angeles-based counterpart, could help turn the tide toward more fiscal investment in the Black community. Organizers say this method will require long-term government dedication and support from a variety of sources to “protect” the investment of time, talent and resources from “significant backlash.” Over the past four years, the report states that this “backlash” against Black equity nationwide has emanated from the justice system, the ballot box, and in administrative processes (e.g. regressive education policies, congressional redistricting, a return to restrictive housing).
“Addressing anti-Black racism will require a long-term commitment and investment from those in power and from all of us as community members and stakeholders,” Santana explained. “We can now identify areas for self-improvement and provide a diagram for implementation. The time of inaction is over. No more excuses.”
The Annenberg Foundation has placed support behind Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Pledge LA campaign in support of 17 “Black founders” with a series of non-equity grants ($25,000) through the Fund for South LA. It will call on participation through government, philanthropic and corporate entities.
On the government side, the report states that more emphasis should be placed on the entire transformation of the “system” so that ownership and wealth creation are accessible for Black people. This includes better access to no/low interest loans and subsidized leases in government-owned buildings; prioritizing the most vulnerable and directly-impacted Black people citywide, with an emphasis on the disabled and those with criminal histories; and finally, providing “intentional financial and incubation support” to Black entrepreneurs, prioritizing those often marginalized community members.
Philanthropy can contribute via more equitable giving by providing no-interest loans and funding policy work conducted by organizations with expertise at the state and local levels.
More work can be done, according to the report, to support organizations that are building “green” power and infrastructure around low-income housing and mutual aid and support services for low-income African-Americans.
The corporate sector is being called upon to exert its influence on and partner with the public sector to increase ownership and wealth creation within the Black community. Also, there should be an expansion and “re-imagining” of product offerings (e.g. a bank’s loan product offerings) to better respond to the expressed challenges that Black business owners face accessing capital. Finally, the corporate sector is encouraged to be “self-accountable” for the ways in which it contributes to economic harm in the Black community, and develop an action plan for reparations, restoration and transformation all done with the advice of advocates and non-profits as they develop such strategies.