An Invitation to Perfect Our Democracy (July 2021)

Our Power. Our Future. Our Nation 

This is our moment. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, ready to complete the next critical miles of the equity movement. We know a new nation is possible, one worthy of our beautiful multiracial democracy, and we are committed to being a driving force toward that future. Our last Equity Summit made it abundantly clear that our movement is mature and ready for a bold, ambitious vision. Now, more than ever, we’re rallying brave leaders to join us in taking tangible and targeted action to step into our power, rebuild our country, and realize a just and fair society in which we all can participate, prosper, and reach our full potential.

Owning our power 

We have always been powerful, as a people and a movement, but after a year of devastation and renewed attention, our organizations faced a crossroads with the choice to proceed with business as usual or to own our power and unapologetically wield it to remake our nation. Choosing our power, we found its source in our ability to believe that this work can and will be achieved. Bringing with us the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of our communities everywhere we go, we will not lose.

We’re setting our boldest goals yet to create new democratic structures, laws, and institutions designed to foster Black liberation, a liberation that is freeing for everyone. To translate these ideas into action, PolicyLink launched a Racial Equity Governing Agenda to remove anti-Blackness from our governing institutions, and to harness their power to realize the promise of equity. One key initiative of this agenda, launching in July, is our Racial Equity Assessment for Federal Agencies which helps federal agencies evaluate, for the first time, how their missions, programs, and services advance or hinder racial equity. The assessment will be a crucial starting point to identify and reverse some of the cruelest racist federal policies, and bring equity champions to federal policy tables. Another critical piece of this agenda taking shape is our Racial Equity Policy Scoring Initiative, created to enhance the capacity of federal agencies to target interventions based on need while enabling clear accountability for the impact of legislation. By scoring for equity, we will begin to create an accountable, responsive democracy. As our agenda moves from intention to action, we can’t wait to share these exciting new tools with you. The future is bright.

Creating our future

Our future requires both a reimagining and a belief in the power of possibility. We believe in a future where housing is vibrant and readily available to all, where anything less than clean and accessible water is unacceptable, where transportation connects people to opportunity. These goals are all within our reach. We have the power to enact policies driven by “equity by design,” the only path forward to a prosperous future. In her open letter, Claiming Our Power, Shaping Our Destiny our founder in residence, Angela Glover Blackwell, describes the importance of seizing and shaping this hour, channeling rage and passion without compromising the big-picture vision necessary to imagine and create an America that works for all. In Angela’s words, “Now is the time to articulate bold intentions, set far-reaching goals, formulate transformational ideas, and build alliances — including unlikely ones — to push those ideas forward. It is the moment to reclaim control of our agenda and our future.”

Rebuilding our nation

We’ve never been met with such an opportune moment to win on equity. With all sectors at the cusp of joining in this work, we must be the architects of a blueprint that centers the more than 100 million in America living in or near poverty and ensures all people in America — particularly those who face the burdens of structural racism — participate in a just society, live in a healthy community of opportunity, and prosper in an equitable economy. The blueprint for an equitable nation has always been within us, echoing for over 20 years, from our founder’s voice to the voices of thousands of grassroots leaders that have been calling us to dismantle the nation’s toxic hierarchy of human value and to design a society that affirms the dignity and fundamental rights of all within our borders. Our work now is to move those blueprints from the recesses of our minds, to bold, results-based action commensurate with the scale of our challenges. 

One of these sector-shifting blueprints, released today, The 2021 CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity helps companies understand and address both the intended and unintended consequences of all their products, policies, and practices on people of color, and by extension, everyone. Companies, whether they like it or not, can occupy a leading edge of the equity movement because they have a unique skill set that is needed in this moment — the power to bend our country’s laws and regulations to their will. They now must use this power to liberate the 100 million!

Leading with possibility

Now is the time to believe in possibility for ourselves, our organizations, and the new nation we are catalyzing with leaders like you. A racially just society with a thriving economy is not a pipe dream, it’s our only hope. To realize this vision we need to put results over rhetoric. We are committed to structural transformations that change the rules of the game for democracy and the economy, build power through movement infrastructure, and reimagine communities.

The unstoppable spirit of Black Americans has demonstrated that the power of love always outshines the love of power. At PolicyLink, we’re doing the soul work to recognize that when any group is systematically oppressed, the social, economic, and political consequences harm us all. Yes, a new world is possible! A world that is a manifestation of our elders’ wildest hopes and dreams. We will carry their aspirations forward and win on equity.

In Solidarity, 

Michael McAfee