The Racial Equity Team: Addressing racial disparities in legislative policy

March 11, 2015 | EOI Intern

Members of the Racial Equity Team

Members of the Racial Equity Team

The Racial Equity Team is a people of color-led network of community leaders, activists and lobbyists that work to empower communities of color to access their political voice through legislative advocacy. Their purpose is to promote equity of opportunity and outcomes for all children, families and communities. The team works to provide a forum for community leaders to collaborate with lobbyists in order to promote racial equity analysis and framing in policy work.

Washington state legislators play a crucial role in ensuring there is equitable opportunity and shared prosperity for all residents. Each legislative session, a number of bills are introduced (and passed) that further deepen racial disparities, despite the good intentions of some well-meaning legislators.

One way the Racial Equity Team works to promote racial equity is through the legislative process. To achieve long term systemic change, the Racial Equity Team engages regularly with champions within legislature and calls attention to the racial equity impacts of proposed legislation. This legislative session the team is providing a racial impact analysis on at least four dozen bills.

People of color are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs that do not provide any kind of benefits. They face many disadvantages, but disparities in family income, health care and access to equal rights are often exacerbated and extend into subsequent generations. Until we eliminate institutional and systemic racism, we will never fully address the widening income gap in our state.

EOI is engaged in the mission of the Racial Equity Team in an effort to help encourage Washington’s elected leaders to dismantle structures that limit opportunities for people of color. EOI is supporting several bills this 2015 legislative session that, if passed, would further contribute to reducing racial inequities in Washington, including: Paid Sick DaysIntent to Cover AllEqual Pay Opportunity Act, and Increasing the Minimum Wage.

By Janna Higgins, Graduate Policy Intern and Tatsuko Go Hollo, Senior Policy Associate

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