Striving to shake off a troubling racial past, during which African Americans suffered injustices ranging from the denial of library cards to public lynchings, the City of Alexandria is working on a race and social equity resolution.
“Government explicitly created and maintained racial inequity for generations, for hundreds of years,” said Jaqueline Tucker, Race and Social Equity Officer, for the City of Alexandria.
Because of historic discrimination, Tucker said, not all corners of the community are thriving, but a race and social equity resolution adopted by the city council could help all people to succeed.
The city recently conducted its third and final online community meeting, in which residents were invited to share their thoughts and ideas that could contribute to the development of a race and social equity resolution that would be considered by the council.
Participants were told that the policy must be centered on race, and must be aimed at providing equitable outcomes for all.
“What we know is that race neutrality does not work,” Tucker said. “It prohibits us from actually taking into account people’s lived experiences.”
The forum was also told that laws aimed at racial equality also fall short.
“Equality is just about access, and just giving everybody something. Equity is making sure everybody gets what they need, making sure the outcomes change for people,” Tucker said. She put it this way: “equality is everybody getting shoes, equity is everybody getting shoes that fit them.”
Race and social equity resolutions have been approved by jurisdictions near and far, including Arlington and Montgomery Counties, and Takoma Park, Maryland.
Asked about the potential language of the city’s proposed race and social equity resolution, some participants offered their own ideas.
“We recognize ourselves as one human family that celebrates and honors its diversity and states explicitly that the welfare of each of us is inextricably bound to the welfare of all,” said Paul Glist, a resident who said he believes the resolution should include a spiritual principle, that would give the resolution great weight.
Some participants registered approval of the idea that any race and social equity resolution that comes before the council must be specific and able to achieve measurable results.