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City of Dallas examines current state of racial equity to build an equitable and inclusive bounce back

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February 8, 2021

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Historic and current institutionalized policies and practices have created disparities in social, health and economic outcomes for many communities of color. The interconnectedness of the complex inequities Dallas faces requires a sustained commitment by multiple local, state, and national entities to address the pervasive disparities.

The City of Dallas’ Office of Equity & Inclusion-Equity Division in partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) are working to move the needle on racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities highlighted in the Equity Indicators report.

The Equity Division and CFT held the second annual Equity Indicators Symposium on Friday, January 22, from 8:30 a.m. – noon.  Pivoting with the current state of times, the virtual event outlined intentional strategies for building an equitable and inclusive economic bounce back. Amplifying tools and resources that promote progress toward advancing equity across communities of color, the event propelled fundamental pillars of an inclusive bounce back.

The symposium was welcomed by Chief of Equity & Inclusion, Liz Cedillo-Pereira, Chair of the Workforce, Education, and Equity Committee – Honorable Council Member, Casey Thomas II, Vice Chair of the Workforce, Education, and Equity Committee – Honorable Council Member Jaime Resendez, and Chief Philanthropy Officer – Communities Foundation of Texas, Sarah Cotton Nelson.

Three diverse panels garnered over 150 attendees, focusing on strategies to promote inclusive business practices and ways to improve racial equity. Panelists included private, public and non-profit perspectives from 14 prominent and diverse local leaders and community organizers including: Moderator, CEO, Dallas Mavericks – Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, Senior Vice President of Dallas Federal Reserve, Alfreda Norman, City of Dallas’ Chief of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services, Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson and more.

The opening panel, Business Strategies that Promote Equity , highlighted specific techniques, actions, strategies, and plans that businesses should consider to move racial equity efforts forward.

Senior Vice President of Dallas Federal Reserve, Alfreda Norman voiced, “This conversation has to happen at the top. Everyone has to work to understand what we’re talking about. First, we have to seek to understand, listen before we can take action, and this action has to be accountable. This conversation has to be with individuals that can make decisions and have the authority to make changes to policy, processes, and procedures.”

Panel two, Current State of Racial Equity in Dallas , explored systemic barriers such as lack of access to quality health care, internet services, and education in African American, Latinx and other communities of color.

“Racism is a problem for all of us,” declared President and CEO of The Concilio, Florencia Velasco Fortner.  “The Black Lives Matter movement this past year has forced all of us to accept the problem, create opportunities to discuss, and work to find better solutions.”

To conclude the 2nd annual Equity Indicators Symposium, panelists focused on creation of A Blueprint for an Equitable Bounce Back  that centers equity and inclusion in the plans for economic recovery amongst those most impacted by the dual pandemic.

“The systems begin with the policies and administrative actions that are embedded in the system that is causing the inequities”, said Chief of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services, Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson. “I don’t know how we do this without stripping away the embedded systems in these policies, because I have the perspective that in order to get to where we need to go, we need to start to reexamine everything from housing to land-use across the board. If we want to be this inclusive community, it begins there, otherwise we’re dancing around the issue. So, I believe those systems need to be adjusted.”

Follow along with the City of Dallas’ next steps on a commitment to timely and measurable change in advancing equity, by viewing the Equity Indicators report here.

To learn more about the panelists and their contributions, view the pamphlet attached. To view more of the plans for building an equitable and inclusive bounce back, watch the recorded Equity Symposium panels below:

Business Strategies that Promote Equity

Current State of Racial Equity in Dallas

A Blueprint for an Equitable Bounce Back  

For more information or questions, email equity@dallascityhall.com

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