Local 21 members are participating in yearlong trainings on advancing Racial Equity in government. The program is produced by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and features a structured curriculum that “advances racial equity and transforms government.” The program consists of monthly trainings that feature skill building, a speaker series, and peer-to-peer problem solving, drawing on best practices from around the country.
Last year, a number of government departments around the Bay Area sent employees to participate in the program, and this year a new cohort made up of workers from 11 different departments has entered the training. Participants hope to create momentum for the program in the Bay Area.
Moises Montoya, from Oakland’s Public Works Department, is part of the incoming group of program trainees. He comments, “Since 1996’s passage of California Proposition 209, where race was banned from factoring in college admissions, Oakland has had no affirmative action hiring, promotion or service delivery criteria. Workplace fairness and effectiveness today require clearer, measurable race, gender, and broader equity lenses. DORE-initiated, citywide training and Local 21 member participation is a key part of marking and maintaining our City’s historic commitment to diversity.”
Danielle DeRuiter-Williams from San Francisco’s Planning Department was part of the group who graduated in 2016. She says that participating departments develop their own plan to address racial equity at the conclusion of the training. The Planning Department will be focusing on issues like hiring and recruiting a racially and ethnically diverse staff, an organizational culture shift that allows for a shared language regarding structural racism, and applying a racial equity lens to plans and programs of the department to ensure that diverse communities are being served equitably. DeRuiter-Williams says that something one speaker said stuck out to her; racial inequities were created over hundreds of years and won’t be overcome without a lot of hard work. “Successfully challenging structural racism requires us to be in it for the long haul” she says. Another thing DeRuiter-Williams takes from the training is, “As important as it is to consider structural racism, it is also important to identify our own role in interrupting racism through our interactions with co-workers, with the public, and by confronting our own internalized notions.”
We salute all the Local 21 members participating in this program. If your department isn’t yet taking part, consider speaking up and suggesting that it does!
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