San Diego County supervisors last week formally defined racism as a public health crisis, acknowledging for the first time that a broad and baked-in prejudice underpins virtually every aspect of public policy.
The unanimous declaration came days ahead of the national holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and after a majority of Democrats was elected to the county board.
Among other actions, the vote directed county officials to begin collecting data that will help them identify and respond to racial disparities in health, education, criminal justice and other staples of American society.
“Racism permeates our whole society,” said Darwin Fishman, who teaches African-American Studies at San Diego State University and co-founded the Racial Justice Coalition.
In San Diego County, the median income for Black households was just over $59,400 and for White, non-Latino households was about $94,370, according to 2019 census data. About 30 percent of Black San Diegans owned their homes, compared to 61 percent of White residents, according to a 2018 study by the real estate brokerage Redfin.
The San Diego City Council established the Office and Race & Equity, creating a $3 million equity fund and additional money for an assessment and action plan. The office will specifically examine hiring and pay at City Hall.
County supervisors quickly followed suit, setting up the Office of Equity and Racial Justice to tackle many of the same issues.
Some activists said changing the status quo means actually effecting change — not setting up committees to study disparities that have been apparent for years.
To read more of Jeff McDonald and Lyndsay Winkley's article, please click, Two steps steps forward, one step back in history of racial equity - The San Diego Union-Tribune