by Brianna Rae
A four-year comprehensive plan to increase racial equity in the county will be presented to the Dane County Board of Supervisors later this week. It is the culmination of a six-month process that assessed the current state of racial equity in Dane County internal government operations, programs, and policies.
“This is a call to action,” said Sharon Corrigan, Chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. “It’s a unique effort,” she continued, pointing to the fact that Dane County is the only county in the United States that has hired an independent third-party consultant to conduct a comprehensive racial equity analysis of its government operations.
The report is a roadmap to increase racial equity in the county, encompassing five recommendations to deepen the understanding of and commitment to racial equity. The goal is to make Dane County government more inclusive and engaging, increase access to economic prosperity, ensure the safety of all neighborhoods, and promote good health for all residents.
“If we want this to be a lasting legacy, it has to be something that is part of our culture and shared values,” said Corrigan. “The scope and seriousness of the racial inequities in Madison really requires deep systemic change. But, change doesn’t come easily. We all need to lean on each other and keep each other accountable in our efforts,” she added.
The Dane County Board of Supervisors retained the New York-based Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), in partnership with the Government Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE) to complete the analysis. In addition, the Dane County Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) Strategic Leadership and Core Teams, which the county established in the summer of 2014, provided critical guidance and feedback.
According to the report, “national best practice suggests government is most successful in addressing racial inequity when all employees and the institution normalize racial equity as a key value; operationalize racial equity via new policies and institutional practice; and organize, internally and in partnership with the community and other institutions.
The recommendations, outlined in detail in the report, implore Dane County to:
• Develop infrastructure and tools to increase Dane County employees’ and residents’ understanding of and ability to advance racial equity.
• Implement strategies to ensure Dane County is an effective and inclusive government that engages community and is responsive to its needs.
• Ensure Dane County’s communities of color share in the County’s economic prosperity.
• Ensure all neighborhoods and people are safe and racial disproportionalities in the criminal justice system are eliminated.
• Ensure that all residents have healthy life outcomes.
“This analysis is about confronting the ineffectiveness of current practices, policies, and procedures. It is a bold step to address the roots causes that lead to racial disparities. This report is a blueprint for Dane County to move forward with racial equity. It’s time for less talk and more action!” said Supervisor Sheila Stubbs, who has represented South Madison for ten years.
The consultants will make a formal presentation at the September 3rd meeting of the County Board’s Executive Committee at 5:15 p.m.. in room 201 of the City-County Building. The report can also be found at https://dane.legistar.com.