Exclusion has been a defining characteristic of our country, undermining the very strength of our democracy. And the barriers that have long harmed Black people have been allowed to grow more entrenched and are hurting more people than ever before, including large swaths of White people. It is time to remove anti-Blackness from our policies and institutions, strengthening our democracy for all. We call on our national leaders to center Black people in this moment and harness the energy from the streets by committing to the following Racial Equity Governing Agenda.
The following are the screen through which all public policy should be developed and evaluated:
Make Government Anti-Racist, Not Merely “Not Racist”
Center Black People
Liberate the Voice of the People
Measure What We Value, Value What We Measure
Adoption of these principles and the actions below will begin to create a fully inclusive society and a strong, accountable democracy.
1. Make Government Anti-Racist, Not Merely “Not Racist”
Racial inequities are not inevitable: they are created and perpetuated by the actions, investments, policies, and decisions of society’s most powerful institutions. Good government is transformed both from within and without by analyzing all decisions and practices with a racial equity lens (asking: Who benefits? Who pays? Who decides?), and using power and influence to remove barriers and expand opportunities. To pursue this agenda, the leaders who make up the federal government must reflect the increasingly diverse America that they serve.
The next administration must create and adopt the Chisholm Rule throughout the executive branch. The Chisholm Rule would:
Require that all nominees and appointments reflect the diversity of the country, including in senior posts in the White House, agencies, and agency sub-cabinets.
Adopt recruitment, succession planning, and culturally competent training practices that advance these racial equity principles throughout the government.
Direct the US Office of Personnel Management to set an executive branch- wide performance measure for all appointees and members of the career Senior Executive Service to meet their professional obligations to challenge racial inequities in their respective agency programs and practices.
2. Center Black People
While elected officials have a responsibility to represent all people, equity calls on leaders to target interventions where they are needed most. Ensuring all people live in a society where they can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential requires recognizing that the path to getting there is different for different groups. Specifically, intentional investments in Black Americans have benefits that cascade out, improving the lives of all struggling people as well as regional economies and the nation as a whole. This concept is known as the “Curb Cut Effect.” There is also ample evidence that historically anti-Black policies are killing White people. This moment demands that national leaders adopt an intersectional racial lens on administration initiatives addressing a wide range of issues. This will benefit all Americans — not only Black America.
Conduct a comprehensive racial equity audit of each agency’s statutes, regulations, and programs to identify policies that, by design or effect, are anti-Black. This includes federal formulas directing the allocation of appropriated funds. The results of this audit, in addition to any recommendations offered by a national commission, will inform the creation of a statutory and regulatory reform agenda that the administration will pursue, accountable to public scrutiny and informed by public input.
Issue a Black and Brown federal budget detailing how federal investments will be prioritized across agencies to address longstanding inequities and underinvestment in Black and Brown communities.
Work with Congress to overhaul the US tax code to reflect the reality that sustainable, inclusive economic growth requires centering tax policy on the 100 million economically insecure Americans — those who currently live at or below 200 percent of the poverty line. Such an effort will not only bring economic benefits and greater prosperity to the entire nation, it will hold the government accountable to the millions it represents.
3. Liberate the Voice of the People
Leaders at all levels must reimagine the way in which we invest in our most vulnerable people and build their power in our economy and democracy. This pivotal moment is our chance to build a nation where all participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. This is what winning on racial equity looks like.
The executive branch and Congress must overhaul current Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring practices to also measure racial equity impacts when conducting cost analyses. Executive branch policymakers and members of Congress alike should be held to account for how they vote on legislation that either advances racial equity or fails to do so based on a racial equity score.
Protect the right to vote and increase access to the ballot box by restoring the Voting Rights Act, pushing states and localities to end gerrymandering, providing sufficient polling places in all communities, and ensuring accurate voting by mail.
Establish preference points on all competitive funding to states and localities that expand and protect access to the ballot box.
Remove barriers to organizing and include labor unions in pandemic response and economic recovery planning.
Support DC statehood and restore the full participation in our democracy to its hundreds of thousands of Black residents.
4. Measure What We Value, Value What We Measure
There are countless examples of the federal government erasing Black lives and other communities of color by failing to comprehensively measure the impacts of our current policies and practices from unacceptable gaps in race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 health impacts, to gaping holes in available national data on the number of Black men and women killed by police each year, to the inability to fully tally federal lending and private sector credit extended to Black communities; This must change.
The President and Congress must compel every federal government entity to develop a racial equity index, or score, for all applicable investments and programs, to gauge which are equitably serving Black America, and which are currently falling short.
The President and economic advisors can set new measures for the health of the nation’s economy, which would include: setting Black unemployment as one of the standard measures of economic health, with other indicia centered around Black lending and credit, and Black health outcomes — along with those indicia tracking other communities of color.
Improve data disaggregation so that researchers, policymakers, and practitioners will be better able to influence the health environments, behaviors, and outcomes of communities across the United States.