By Brandi Phillips
Led by 8th Ward Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a Racial Equity Action Plan for the City is in the planning and formation stages. It is expected to be implemented by a Racial Equity Action Plan Committee that Glidden hopes will be comprised of community members, city council members,and various city departments such as the police and fire department.
The Racial Equity Action Plan is intended as a well-thought-out approach to the goal of racial equity. The Racial Equity Action Plan Committee will be defining the term “racial equity” as well as setting goals based on the definition.
In 2012, the City of Minneapolis initiated a Climate Action Plan that, according to the City’s website, provides a roadmap to guide Minneapolis towards greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. This plan partnered City staff with technical experts and community representatives in an effort “to develop a comprehensive set of emissions reduction strategies”
Using the Climate Action Plan as a template, the Racial Equity Action Plan Committee will consist of:
• A steering committee
• A task force
• Staff experts from City departments
• General community members/stakeholders and leaders
The steering committee will make sure each City department, such as the fire, police and water departments, will be held accountable to achieving racial equity in the city by following whatever goal each department has formally written in a plan to the City.
The steering committee will also keep the plan on course toward meeting racial equality goals by monitoring the implementation of stated diversity practices from each City department. And, similarly to the Climate Action Plan, the Racial Equity Action Plan will also include a prioritized list of what things need to happen in any specific year.
Glidden states, “This is where we are with the Racial Equity Action Plan”: They are developing the task force, choosing experts from departments, and also finding community members to complete the Racial Equity Action Plan Committee.
Following the template of the Climate Action Plan, the Racial Equity Plan will also have a number of community stakeholders. These stakeholders have not been identified yet because the Racial Equity Steering Committee — composed of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and City Council Members Cam Gordon (2nd Ward), Alondra Cano (9th Ward) and Blong Vang (5th Ward) along with Glidden — have just recently held their first planning meetings to begin laying out goals and objectives for the complete Racial Equity Action Plan, as well as identifying the complete Racial Equity Action Plan Committee.
The completed committee will identify the scope of actions that will be taken over the next five years to improve racial equity across the City of Minneapolis. Committee members will be appointed by recommendation or vote from each City department. This process has not been fully developed at this time, since the plan is still in its initial stages with the steering committee.
Council Member Glidden acknowledges that “Racial equity is a terminology that is popular now. But, having the goal [of racial equity] is something that has been [in place] before, but on the City end, we have not done a good job of what is our focused effort and [formal tracking structure]. How are we collecting [data for] the things we are doing? How are we making sure we are on task to meet the benchmarks that will be impactful in terms of subject matters that we are going to deal with?”
Some things that the City of Minneapolis is already working on this year include hiring a more diverse workforce, more hiring in the police department (currently 100 new job openings coming up for officers), and also hiring for community service officers; hiring more fire department cadets; and creating more jobs in the public works department.
Glidden adds, “We need, in the city, to look at a lot of jobs. Are we doing our best job in recruiting in a way that will result in a diverse workforce? Are we doing our best job in terms of looking at how the positions themselves are designed? Are they attractive and match skills sets [that will] allow us to diversify? What are the right skills that we should be putting on that page that are really about getting the job done? Do we have things on there that are historical?”
Other target areas that the Racial Equity Action Plan will cover over the next few years include working with people of color to get bids for providing goods and services to the City. This will also require changing policies and ordinances. The plan will also addressthe certification processes for small businesses and business owners to be able to get City bids for goods and services.
Housing is another area that will be looked at. Glidden wants to answer the following housing questions as well: “How do we treat people residentially? How are we going to improve home ownership to improve diversity in the community?”
As the plan moves forward, the committee plans to continue looking at City policies that need to be changed. They will also look at state laws that may also need to be changed to help the City do its best job to attract a diverse workforce and match up people with jobs in the city.
The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder will continue to follow the progress of this plan.
Brandi Phillips welcomes reader responses to [email protected]