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Resources from Advancement Project's Race Counts Webinar

Publication date: 
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

On November 15, 2017, Advancement Project hosted a webinar on “Race Counts”. Race Counts is an online interactive tool developed by Advancement Project that provides a three-dimensional framework for understanding racial equity in California. A report on Race Counts can also be found here. The webinar presentation was participated by:

  • John Kim, Executive Director, Advancement Project
  • Megan McClaire, Director of Health Equity, Advancement Project
  • Chris Ringewald, Associated Director of Research, Advancement Project
  • Katie Smith, Director of Communications, Advancement Project
  • Veronica Carrizales, Policy and Campaign Development Director, California Calls

The Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization using innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.

The “Golden State” Contradiction

Race Counts was developed to better understand and address racial inequity in California. Both the online website and the report are tools to create data-driven and data-informed work on racial equity that is available to anyone. John Kim recalled that in 1968 California declared itself the “Golden State”, a tribute to the state’s investment in K-12 schools, higher education system, and overall infrastructure as well as a contemporary beacon for progressive politics. However, Kim discerned that low-income communities of color and Indigenous communities were excluded from this equal access to California’s promise and noted that it was the state’s unwillingness to resolve this fundamental contradiction over equal access that has led to public institutions perpetuating widening racial disparities. Race Counts uses race as the primary lens for understanding racial disparities and focuses on systemic racism: the way racism has been embedded in public political, economic and social systems.

An MRI Scan of Racial Equity in California

Race Counts acts as a guide for community members, organizational leaders, policy makers, and decision makers in framing the needs of communities and formulate action plans involving racial equity. Race Counts organizes and presents data of every county in California over seven issue areas: economic opportunity, healthcare access, education, housing, democracy, crime and justice and healthy built environment. Within each issue area are a range of indicators to help explain levels of performance, disparity, and impact of racial inequity within each county. One of the exciting features of Race Counts are new indicators such as “Diversity of Police” and “Diversity of Teachers”, which expands on the nuances of each issue area. These issue areas and indicators are organized within a three-dimensional framework. A four quadrant grid groups counties as either belonging to “Gains at Risk”, “Struggling to Prosper”, “Prosperity for the Few”, and “Stuck and Unequal”. These quadrants indicate the differing ways disparities hurt communities. Additionally, within each group, counties are presented based on the size of their population and ranking on performance and disparity. Race Counts provides an MRI scan of racial equity in California.

Using Race Counts towards Advocacy and Organizing

Veronica Carrizales from California Calls, an organization that is engaged in voter registration and getting out the vote for local, state and federal elections, underscored the value and importance of data that incorporates a racial equity lens. In her work, which utilizes a bottom-up approach to engage women, immigrants, and communities of color to participate in advocacy, their current databases have enabled the organization to create seventeen civic engagement programs, register 83,000 youth voters over a span of three months and turn out the vote of over 700,000 voters. Carrizales explained that Race Counts matters as it will enable organizers to identify key issues affecting their communities and to develop crucial platforms for change. The ability to hone-in on crucial issues is what has led to successful campaigns such as advocating for the passage of Proposition 30, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57 in California. Race Counts data is already being utilized for new campaigns such as the “Make It Fair” campaign focused on closing corporate tax loopholes and campaigns calling for improved implementation of Proposition 47.

Drivers of Disparity

Advancement Project identified four key drivers of disparity that are focal points for taking action towards racial equity. These four drivers are also essential to funders that have an interest in racial equity work and utilizing Race Counts as a basis for analysis and creation of organizational platforms specifically targeting racial equitable outcomes:

  • Systems that Turn Bias into Disparity

All public systems, especially criminal justice and public safety, need reforms to root out the impact of bias and stereotyping through updating practices related to training and hiring, as well as increasing transparency, accountability, and robust community engagement.

  • Exclusionary Patterns of Economic

Business leaders must work with advocates and policymakers to ensure that gains are shared more equitably and that the traditional spaces where economic development decision have been made are opened to new participants.

  • Imbalance in Political Power

More must be done to create stronger systems of public engagement that can allow for effective partnerships with communities of color and give impacted residents a say in budget and policy priorities.

  • Use of Need- And Color-Blind Policies to Perpetuate Disparities

Californians will need to creatively develop new policies that proactively address race-based disparities through targeted investments and new programming to root out color-blind policies.

For additional questions and comments about this webinar, please contact Sean Tan, SCG Public Policy Intern at [email protected].

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