LA City Council Race Race & Class Race & Justice

New Office of Racial Equality Will Soon Be Working to Erase Racial Gaps in LA

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to create a brand-new Office of Racial Equity (ORE) to break down racial disparities in the city policies and programs affecting issues like housing, health, education, employment, and the justice system.

The move follows on the heels of San Francisco, where officials have been working over the last six months to develop their own Office of Racial Equity.

Council President Herb Wesson introduced Tuesday’s motion, along with Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Councilmember Paul Koretz seconded the motion.

Over the last several months, Wesson, O’Farrell, and Harris-Dawson partnered with Community Coalition, Advancement Project, and Revolve Impact, on a mission — called embRACE LA — to hold more than 150 conversations about race and inequality across the city. These conversations helped to inform the development of the ORE.

People attending these conversations answered survey questions about race and justice in LA. Survey respondents, for example, overwhelmingly supported the ORE, and a mere 21.5 percent reported that they agreed or strongly agreed that the city was an equitable and inclusive place for people of all races and ethnicities to live.

“When this government was created it was not created to benefit people who looked like me,” said Council President Wesson. “I am proud that in one of my final acts as the first Black Council President, we as a Council acknowledge the City’s role of structural and institutional racism and its role in righting those wrongs with an Office of Racial Equity that looks out for all Angelenos.”

The motion points out several examples of racial disparities that persist in Los Angeles — disparities that the ORE could work to disassemble. Black residents, for example, have the lowest median household income in LA. And mortgage lenders most frequently deny applications from Native Americans (27.3 percent). The motion also notes that a startling 41 percent of black transgender people in LA report having experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. And Asian Pacific Islanders who rent their homes, have the least amount of income ($601) left over every month after housing costs.

“The racial inequities that exist in Los Angeles are not accidental – they are the result of various historic, systemic, and socioeconomic factors, including biased and discriminatory government decisions, policies, and practices,” the motion says. “Throughout its history, many of L.A.’s decisions have excluded certain communities and populations and resulted in an inequitable distribution of opportunity, housing, and even justice.”

And because our local government had a hand in “creating and maintaining” those racially biased systems, now, it must “play a role in eliminating” those inequalities, according to the councilmembers.

The motion calls on the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst and the City Administrative Officer to report back to the council with a plan for establishing the ORE.

The motion directs the CLA and CAO to consult with those community groups involved with embRACE LA, and to examine similar offices in other jurisdictions.

The ORE will be tasked with using a Racial Equity Impact Tool and an Equitable Budgeting Tool to analyze the city’s current and future policies and programs. The office will also be required to identify and track key indicators of racial equity, and to put the resulting data in a dashboard and an annual report.

In cases where policies and programs are found to be exacerbating inequality, the new office will work to repair the harm done to communities and individuals of color, and also partner with city departments to fix those disparity-producing systems.

One of the goals of the ORE will also be to boost civic engagement among populations that are less likely to participate, by making civic participation more accessible. The ORE will “coordinate and facilitate trainings for residents in their communities to build their civic capacity, civic knowledge, and sense of political empowerment,” the motion says.

Additionally, the office will offer racial equity training to city staff members focused on issues like “the history of inequality and discrimination, systemic racism, implicit bias, the role of local government in racial equity and the current state of racial equity in Los Angeles.”

In order to ensure that the ORE is benefiting the communities that need it most, a Community Racial Equity Advisory Committee will advise the office and act as a community oversight body.

The city will achieve racial equity, says to Community Coalition, “when communities of color are prioritized with investment to right the injustices of decades of disinvestment – direct results of systemic racism and white supremacy.”


Image: Office of LA City Council President Herb Wesson.

32 Comments

  • And 1, if you mean cops are “desperate” to try to deal with criminals, I agree with you. If you mean “disparate,” I would NOT agree with you.

    In my experience, having worked custody and patrol for many years, cops generally treat everyone the same. It’s the BEHAVIOR of certain groups and cultures in committing crimes more often than others and responding to police aggressively when confronted, that is “disparate.”

    Los Angeles, the County, the State and even the Country are quickly becoming less and less white. I wonder how long we’ll continue to blame whites for the inability of people of color to get ahead.

    • I think they will be able to milk out another full generation. Just look at what squad member Tlaib blamed on “white supremacism”: the New Jersey murders of Jews by Black supremacists. Say what??? Gaslighting is alive and well with the left.

      • Dose of Reality – Do you really think the B.S you listen to on Fox is Gospel truth preached by Jesus.

        Talk about Gaslighting the Country every day. I bet you like to listen to the whole Build a Wall. Mexicans are rapists and criminals shit spewed every minute.

        Say what ????

        • I’m sure the leftist, anti-Trump montras delivered hourly by MSNBC and CNN are so much more reliable. Go ahead and google “Tlaib deletes tweet” and you will see a ton of stories about her deleting the offending tweet.

          • Dose of Reality – Here is a dose for you – I bet you crave favorable headlines of BS mountain aka Fox opinion show ( NOT NEWS ) like a meth junkie, your impulsive behavior and mood swings would put it mildly while devouring on your ” Alt Right” fascination.

        • This comment is wrong , not even a quote and not even close…. but this is what the left does.. makes up lies or twists words and spews then as fact…… Its ok … you are the one who will be the loser if a socialist ever gets in power……

    • I meant disparate treatment, desperate was a typo…I know the make up of the Sheriffs Department and I also know who runs the show. I know custody, courts and patrol and have witnessed with my own eyes Disparate Treatment.

      Certain groups respond to LE in certain ways because of how LE treats them. Certain groups are sentenced at higher rates because of color. Certain groups are convicted more times than not because they can’t afford a legal defense. Certain groups are granted better educations in certain areas than others. We can go on n on.

      In response to your last sentence…..even when you get ahead individuals of power find a way to bring you down simply because you don’t follow their program.

      We can debate unfair treatment n discrimination all day long, but unless you’ve lived it, seen it or dealt with it you will never know it’s pain.

      When Race Out Of Place, Stops Being An Issue……Maybe People Of Color Will Have A Change Of Heart.

      We all have opinions and I respect them all. But everyone has their own story. I have mine for many reasons that began many many many moons ago in the hood.

      But just cause you rise above the hood, educate yourself n join LE, doesn’t mean they will accept you just as everyone else has been accepted.

      BTW…..I have never blamed other individuals, I’ve used them as my motivation to get ahead. But in recent years they have reminded me that im still colored.

      Anywayz, Happy Holidayz n God Bless America n LASD.

      • And 1 – So well said. Why do you think there is lack of funding to schools in colored neighborhood’s. This is systemic in terms of funding/ society. Villanueva and his posse keeps harping about money for a new prison. The prison will be filled with Black and Brown populations from lower socio- economic neighborhoods.

        So yes this is systemic in large parts. It starts with funding programs in education/ technical schools / after school programs. We can either have these programs for a better more educated and productive society or spend the same money on jails/ incarcerations of Blacks and Latinos.

        I bet there will be the same ol characters spewing womit to prove their concocted views. These people do not live in poor neighborhoods, and have every excuse to not live in them. But yes they do like their large LA County paychecks and benefits and off course their retirements which they live very well off with in places like Idaho/ Montana and the whitest parts of Texas.

        So Blacks and Latinos here is the truth – and it will hurt. These same characters who talk about saving your communities do not like your kind. Their perception is that people from colored communities in LA County behave like animals. So they live in Torrance, Beach cities, the Hills of LA County ( Yes Villanueva, I’m talking about you ) and Orange County.

  • @ LASD Apostle,
    Your last paragraph speak volumes, the history of unacceptable behavior by the race of people began when European Whites came to this America which was inhabited by people of color.

    The bad behavior of whites (not all) in this country towards P.O.C. (including systemic racism) did not happen overnight and neither will it end with overnight forgiveness by people of color with a handshake and bowed heads from white America.

    Reverse this narrative and imagine people of color going to white countries and literally taking over by force, fear, lies and trickery. Something to think about when you bring the race conversation in it’s totality.

    I do recognize that some people of color will use excuses and blame whites for everything adverse in their lives which is a tired song and dance.

  • And 1 is making the mistake of thinking this new bureaucracy is designed to actually do something about things like “systemic racism.” It isn’t, its a scam to give the city council political cover, and a way of doling out favors to “friendly” community leaders for endorsements and the like. Pretty much like Lee Baca’s Bishop Turner, except on a bigger scale and with a more respectable facade.

    Btw, ideas like systemic racism as well as the other ridiculous terms thrown about in this story, are designed to be nonspecific and a bit vague. The people who use these terms want to leverage guilt without having to argue with someone defending themselves against the charge of racism. That way they get to make all sorts of baseless charges, without any real push back, Mr Wesson is a perfect example.

    • I’m just a dreamer Mr. Kong, I’m just dreaming that some day my kids won’t have to face what I have faced in my life. I did better, so they may have better and yet we are back in the same situation.

      But If I can make it out the hood, surely I can make it anywhere.

  • Another liberal, progressive excuse to funnel more money, under the guise of an allegedly much needed program, to protect and provide for the residents of the city.

    It is amazing how the same people who claim to be fighting against the injustices of racism, discrimination etc., are the same individuals who continually keep these same subjects in the fore front.

    If you are so inclined, look at news articles from across the nation of an officer involved shooting (i.e., white officer shots black man).

  • Too little, too late from the little black Napoleon Herb Wesson. This is the man whose son has not had his rent increased for years because, as he said, his “father does business with the [building] owner.” This is the same Herb whose son is working, coincidentally, with one of the top awardees for pot licenses. The same Herb who redistricted the Koreans out of any political power. This is the same herb who has not met a high rise development he did not support. Until, of course, he is running for county supervisor and then he opposes one because “the people in the neighborhood would not be able to afford to live there.” What he meant is that black people cannot afford this one (because it is in a black community) and he is running for supervisor so now he “cares.” This was never an issue before his campaign, especially when such developments where Korea town where its brown and not black people getting priced out. This two-bit poverty pimp reminds me of the other black poverty pimp – Madame Maxine Waters. My “liberal” friends love them, so long as they don’t have to deal with the natives and they do not come into their neighborhoods.

    The idea is great and needed, contrary to what what cowboy friends on the site think, but putting Herb on the front is a mistake and loses any kind of credibility one could have had. The man could care less about blacks and Latinos, except that he is running for office. He talks the talk, but he does not walk it. Of course, his boys are making a pretty penny.

    Celeste, given your audience, you are throwing them red meat by putting this poverty pimp as the voice of such a movement.

    BTW, I would love to be invited to one of those conversations with some of the fine gentlemen on this site. Maybe something good will come out of it.

  • Blacks are 13% of the population and commit 85 % of the violent crime in the country. There is some racial imbalance for you.

    • Class 211 – Here are some stats for you. Whites are 75.6 % of the population and 94.2 % of pedophiles. Just stating the facts.

      • @Shit show- Do you have a link or a source for those facts? It’s not that I dont believe you, it’s just when statements like that are said, I like to see proof of the studies.

  • CF…I’m choking back my food as I agree with you (very hard to say) and your assessment of several political wheeler and dealers in the Black community. It’s clear that even within the Democratic party racism, classism, sexism and all the other nasty “….isms” do still exist. So many Black political leaders are akin to the proverbial “house worker” that has figured out a way to “get theirs” and ensure their own are taken care of while those who “work the field” are left to toil in their roles as the necessary underclass. How can you have a wealthy ruling class or middle class striving to be members of the ruling class, if you do not have a lower class to exploit and look down upon to make you feel better about your position in society? The path of good intentions are lined with gold but if someone along the path decides to put up a gate, claim it as their own and restrict access…we all know the outcome.

    Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists….all ideological names that at the end of the day become “twisted, perverted and deviate from their true definitions” in practice. The reason…people. Imperfect inhuman beings will lie, cheat, steal abuse power and try to get over on their fellow man. Oh…this phenomena is not relegated to one race, gender, ethnic group, religious, orientation, etc, etc. either.

    I can remember back in the day The Watts Labor Community Action (WLCAC) headed by the late Ted Watkins actually using government monies (post-riot) to train and put folks to work in the community. Not to say WLCAC was not without issues, but at least you saw tangible results in the communities and people from the community were given real opportunities.

    Oh..the individual who mentioned the statistics about Blacks and violent crimes, I think the jail/prison population in California is mostly Hispanic. So what’s your point? There are many poor whites locked up too but they are still more likely to be given the “benefit of the doubt” by a sympathetic judicial system and receive lighter sentences when convicted.

  • @ shit show. Not sure if it’s that high but you are probably close. Whites also are the majority of serial killers with blacks running strong second. I think the reason whites are more prevalent when it comes to sexual attraction to children is due to in breeding in 1700’s and 1800’s in the south. The big advances in DNA studies is shining light on why certain groups commit certain crimes. Going to be interesting how society handles the advances in human DNA in coming years.

  • We can argue about the reasons for these facts, but not about the facts themselves. There are likely several reasons, not the least of which is a culture that emphasizes hatred and defiance for any authority, but particularly police.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016/08/01/heather-macdonald-the-war-on-cops/

    “A 2011 study of California and New York arrest data,” she (Heather MacDonald) writes, led by Darrell Steffensmeier, a criminologist at Pennsylvania State University, found that blacks commit homicide at eleven times the rate of whites and robbery at twelve times the rate of whites. Such disparities are repeated in city-level data. In the 75 largest county jurisdictions in 2009, blacks were 62 percent of robbery defendants, 61 percent of weapons offenders, 57 percent of murder defendants, and 50 percent of forgery cases, even though blacks are less than 13 percent of the national population.”

    • LASD Apostle…..happy holidays. Ask your black friend (the 1) if any…..why he or his family don’t like law enforcement, I guarantee there is a reason. I grew up having my own reasons and in the last 3 years my dislikes have grown.

      Those statistics would be different if these same groups in these poverty stricken neighborhoods were given the same opportunities as others.

      Hell I know 8% of 10,000 sworn that are still not receiving equal opportunities even though they made it out of poverty n the hood.

      This Great America as some of you call it, wasn’t built for everyone to succeed.

      Pray 4 America and Pray 4 LASD

  • And 1, if you mean whites who fall below the poverty line, there are TWICE as many as poor blacks. There are more Hispanics below the poverty line than blacks and Native Americans are, by far, poorer than blacks. Yet none of these groups commit crimes anywhere near the level of blacks.

    https://talkpoverty.org/basics/

    Instead of arguing about facts and perpetually playing the victim, black leaders should try to come up with ways to change the situation.

    • Where do “you guys” come up with this “Black Leaders” line in every conversation concerning blacks? Last time I checked, America is one nation ,under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
      For all, takes on a different narrative when “you guys” put your spin on it.

    • Good point. Well, well. I don’t have a black leader or do I need someone to voice my opinions as a black man in America. However, From what I’ve learned (and I’m still growing and learning), “Community Leader” was a terminology amplified during the Civil Rights movement when Martin Luther King was given that label by Southern whites who didn’t want to deal with Malcolm X. It was also a time where various church pastors were also highly regarded as community leaders during the 20+ years Tom Bradley was the Mayor of LA. It was usually these leaders who spoke up on behalf of the black community about issues of arrest, murder investigations, bail, juvenile delinquency, college education, jobs, housing, employment, banking, small business loans, political alliance, and police brutality, because their was little to no people of color representing the black struggle at the state level or in law enforcement. Affirmative Action was a big part of getting many black kids into college other than getting an athletic scholarship to play football, basketball, or run track. Affirmative Action opened up doors of opportunity that would not have occurred if enacted by Congress. Many universities and industries benefited from a rich pool of talented, bright, educated blacks Who eventually became engineers, doctors, professors, teachers, bankers,, county , state and government workers. But, that was in the 60’s, 70’s, and into the 90’s. Race relations was a problem still, but it was on a slow path in a positive direction. (Especially in Los Angeles). Fast forward: once The Honorable Clarence Thomas was elected to the USA Supreme Court, and his vote lead to the demise of Affirmative Action; many Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, and major universities (UCLA & University of Michigan were one of the first universities to say they will not use affirmative action for college admissions) etc. must have thrown their hands in the air as to say, Thank You; we don’t have to accept them any more. But prior to that deadly vote in the Supreme Court, other groups with their savvy attorneys adopted Affirmative Action for their own cause and agenda and began to water down the initial purpose of why affirmative action was created in the first place. So here we are in 2020 where the opportunities for young black and brown kids are systematically left out of many possibilities of any legal economic gratification due to doors being slammed in their faces, they grew up on the wrong side of the freeway, or they didn’t attend the $60,000/ year private high school. Part-time jobs at McDonald or Burger King use to be jobs for high school kids or kids working their way through college. Now they are career jobs where people have to have in order to raise their families. I believe California state colleges and universities ( which our tax dollars pay for) have a non-published dotted red circle of public high schools in selected impacted communities where a graduating seniors 4.0 GPA is only valued as a “C”. We all know about the SAT test. So, many of these students are left with nowhere to go and the temptation of fast illegal money becomes more attractive. During the mid to late 80’s, Gaston Green, former running back at UCLA wanted to protest the unfair treatment of black athletes as well as the low number of black student admission who weren’t on athletic scholarship. He understood the importance of opportunity given kids from low income communities. As time went on, the overall impact of lack of opportunities was heightened by increased racism in education, jobs offered, housing, healthcare and law enforcement. This systemic racism is part of America’s DNA and has been subconsciously passed down generation after generation. When I first walked into a business meeting at my job, I was black first without the initial consideration of my education , knowledge and skills. Yes, I’ve been blessed. But it hurts when I see great potential in others who don’t get a fair opportunity. And yes, I’ve been stopped by cops because of driving in a flashy car or I’ve been stopped and questioned while jogging on my block. I grew up in the 60’s, during the civil rights movement, Watts Riots, Black panther party, EOP program for minority students enrolling in the California State University system and benefited from financial aid because I was on a football team. I teach my kids that an education is your key to success. It won’t guarantee instant job offers but a degree gives you a better opportunity to make a respectable living while traveling through this life’s journey.

  • Poverty by Ethnicity

    According to 2018 US Census Data, the highest poverty rate by race is found among Native Americans (25.4%), with Blacks (20.8%) having the second highest poverty rate, and Hispanics (of any race) having the third highest poverty rate (17.6%). Whites had a poverty rate of 10.1%, while Asians had a poverty rate at 10.1%.

    I see who lives in poverty when I take a drive every Sunday to church as I leave the burbs and head to the hood. I see the difference in the housing, the roads, the conditions of the schools etc etc etc.

    The top 3 on the list were all stepped on and are continuing to be stepped on by the powers that be.

    The native americas they put on reservations, the African Americans they put in the projects and Hispanics in barrios. No jobs, poor education, drugs and alcohol, etc etc etc.

    When individuals are backed into corners with no way out, they will fight to survive by any means necessary. Everyone has a choice, blah blah blah. Well even when you make the right choice, at some point in your life your reminded that your still from the projects, a barrio and belong incarcerated on a reservation.

    Im gonna just keep dreaming that someday we will all be equal and free.

    • We are all equal and free, except for our starting point in life. Some are born on third base and act like they hit a triple. Some are the engine of their own destruction, but they will always blame the man for keeping them down. Most lie in between, getting out of life what they put into it.

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