Why focus internally?
RESJI is working to create change in the areas we can have the strongest initial impact, like departmental operations, hiring, budgeting, and policymaking. The initial RESJI recommendations include ways to engage and support communities and neighborhoods in more sustained and authentic ways. Our partners in the community have been leading the way on racial equity and social justice in their own communities, and we will continue supporting and aligning with their efforts in every way we can.
Why focus on race?
RESJI’s explicit focus on racial equity is in direct response to racial disparities documented in the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families’ (WCCF) Race to Equity report released in September 2013. Efforts that address poverty and other social conditions without specifically focusing on race can actually widen racial inequities. For example, programs that are designed to help women gain employment are valuable, but women of color suffer joblessness at a higher rate than women in general.
Who is involved in RESJI?
Representatives from each city department participate on the core team, as well as leading change in their own departments. Department heads have received training in RESJI and are key partners. RESJI is interested in strengthening the City of Madison’s connections to the community to promote accountability and transparency.
When will the impact of RESJI be visible?
RESJI has celebrated several early wins, including the development and piloting of the RESJI equity impact analysis tool, departments adopting equity in their mission statements with a strong focus on equity in their work planning, serving as a partner to the Dane County RESJ team, and training many employees and elected officials in Dane County. Racial disparities have been formed over the course of centuries in the United States. We have a long term focus, as we want to build sustainable capacity to make the urgent, deliberate, and monumental change that is needed. We often say RESJI work is a marathon, not a sprint.
How will progress be measured?
Community engagement, transparency, communication, and data are key parts of measuring RESJI’s work. The RESJI team has several important data points that can be used to track the City’s progress, such as employment demographics and demographics of the city’s commissions and committees. There are also many external data points that RESJI is organizing to set a roadmap for progress and success. We also plan to regularly check-in with community members to track our progress.
How is RESJI different from past efforts to address racism?
RESJI is an urgent, deliberative shift in the way that the City approaches race and equity. Through the development and application of a racial equity impact analysis tool, RESJI is focused on addressing institutional racism within the City’s institutional structure. Past efforts focused primarily on programs targeted at individuals, RESJI takes a more comprehensive approach to challenging the perpetuation of institutional and structural racism.