For Immediate Release
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Contact: Vina Kay
Community Organizations Gather at the Capitol to Honor Racial Justice Champions and Look to the 2012 Session
(St. Paul, Minnesota) – Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP), joined by over 30 community organizations, released a 2012 Racial Equity Agenda at the State Capitol today. With the subtitle “A Roadmap for Community Organizers and Leaders in Minnesota,” the agenda calls for leadership across communities and all levels of government to build racial justice through multiple measures. From issues like the Vikings stadium to education to health care, the agenda links all of these concerns to a movement toward greater racial equity. A multiracial and multi-issue group of community leaders stood in support of the agenda, agreeing to work together to advance racial justice in Minnesota and challenging legislators to do the same.
The 2012 Racial Equity Agenda was released in conjunction with the 2011 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity. This is OAP’s sixth report card, which highlights the proposals in the legislature that would break down barriers to racial equity, and recognizes the leaders who have put those policy proposals forward. OAP honored 68 legislators who earned an individual grade of A or B for racial justice in 2011. Of those, 46 were also recognized for being Consistent Champions over the last four years. Another 16 legislators were honored for being Consistent Champions for racial justice over the last four years, even though they did not earn an A or a B in the last session.
“The Report Card reminds us of the importance of strong leadership for racial equity, even in a challenging political environment,” said Vina Kay, Director of Research and Policy and author the Report Card. “Unfortunately, we did not see unified leadership for racial equity, and that has a negative impact on the well-being of the entire state, especially when most of the growth in Minnesota’s population is among communities of color.”
Overall, the legislature received a grade of D for racial equity. Many of the positive racial equity bills introduced did not progress far in the legislature. The Report Card did not highlight positive budget equity bills, instead focusing on the overall negative impact of budget decisions on communities of color. On the budget, the legislature received a grade of F. Both grades reflect a sharp decline in performance for building racial equity, after two consecutive years of a B grade for the legislature.
Governor Dayton received a grade of B-, which considered his balanced budget proposal, his success in holding back some negative legislation through vetoes, and his use of executive orders to implement some policies that move racial equity forward. Despite those efforts, the Report Card noted that he was not entirely successful in promoting racial justice. Much of what he did sign into law was wrapped up in omnibus packages, and with mixed results for racial justice.
“Inequity is costing us,” said Kay. “Even as populations of color grow, Minnesota has some of the largest disparities in the country, across education, employment, wealth, and incarceration. If we don’t build policies and structures that change that pattern, the entire state will pay for those inequities.”
For more information on the 2011 Minnesota Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity and the 2012 Racial Equity Agenda, visit OAP’s website: www.oaproject.org.
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