DC launches new racial equity office, search for chief equity officer starts

On the first day of Black History Month, D.C. said it will be looking for the city’s first Chief Equity Officer for the newly created racial equity office.

“As we continue our recovery into 2021, we have a unique opportunity to double down on our efforts to put racial equity at the forefront and revitalize systems to ensure a more inclusive and prosperous future for all Washingtonians,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday.

“We know that when more Washingtonians are given a fair shot, we are a stronger and more resilient city. I look forward to our search for a director who will uphold our shared values for a more equitable and diverse D.C.”

The executive advisory role comes from a bill passed last fall by the D.C. Council, which creates a sister position in the legislative branch.

“This is going to be new and different for the council, because it’s going to require us — and that’s exactly the point — it’s going to require us to be thinking about racial equity when we’re looking at legislation,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.

“I want to emphasize that folks talk about racial equity, but it’s not always crystal clear, what is the best answer? And a good assessment is going to say, ‘Well, if you do this, there could be the following impacts. And if you do that, there could be the following impacts.’ And it may not be a bright line, in terms of what is the right course, but it will inform us of what is the better course in terms of racial equity, and it will raise our consciousness.”

Legislation for the office was originally put forward by Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie.

“Only by building systems that are intentional in their design to account for our city’s legacy of racism and discrimination and are targeted to expand access will every District resident truly have the same opportunities to prosper in our society,” McDuffie said. “The Chief Equity Officer will be instrumental in our local government’s efforts to eliminate racial disparities and advance the goal of achieving equity in the Nation’s Capital.”

The position will be posted to mota.dc.gov this week.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this story.

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