Racial equity declared a fundamental value of DC-area governments

Jaqueline Tucker on DC-area leaders recognizing racial disparities

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has passed a resolution affirming that it holds racial equity as a fundamental value.

That came Wednesday, but advancing racial equity has been a stated priority being acted upon since last year.

The Council of Governments, or COG, launched the Racial Equity Cohort in September 2019 in partnership with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, or GARE.

“It’s helping them to identify governments’ role in creating, perpetuating and exacerbating inequities along racial lines,” said Jaqueline Tucker, after briefing the COG board on Cohort outcomes. Tucker is the Race and Social Equity Officer for the City of Alexandria.

More than 100 participants from 11 jurisdictions are part of the cohort.

Participating jurisdictions working to develop more equitable policies and practices have chosen projects to work on based on community needs that might affect, for example, transportation, affordable housing or language access.

“Based on their comfort and their familiarity, but also their recognition of the intersection of racism that could be present in a decision that was already being made or a decision that was going to be made,” Tucker said.

The Alexandria team for the cohort has focused efforts on increasing housing production and affordability. Specifically, the cohort wants to raise housing production and affordability by 310 units for a total of 1,150 units each year over the next 10 years.

A first step for the cohort was to help participants recognize there is an issue to be addressed.

“You have to make people aware of systemic racism and racism not being individual bigotry or prejudice, but actually knowing that it’s built into our system,” Tucker said.

Along with having jurisdictions go through the process of selecting and acting upon racial equity- focused projects, they are asked to define a racial equity action plan for their jurisdiction or for a specific department within the jurisdiction.

A new 101 introductory cohort will begin early 2021 that is open to all COG jurisdictions to participate. GARE will also offer continued sessions with the current cohort that will begin in the fall — a 201 implementation cohort.

You can find details on the progress of projects in individual jurisdictions by downloading the July 2020 COG Board Packet and going to page 81.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up