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Racial and Social Equity Training Plan for City Staff Taking Shape in Alexandria

The Alexandria City Council is expected to receive a city council resolution on race and social equity by the end of the year, and will receive recommendations on making the city’s diversity/inclusion statement more racially explicit.

“We’re thinking in working through how to draft a resolution as specific to race and social equity for Council’s adoption,” Jaqueline Tucker, the city’s racial and social equity officer, told Council on Tuesday night.

Tucker has spend the last seven months developing a racial equity training plan for all city staff. She said that city leadership and the department of community and human services employees have received racial equity training, and that she is developing a pilot program for all city staff.

“We’re beginning to map out and sketch how we will train all staff in the coming months,” she said. “I believe that (DCHS will) have all staff trained, at least in a foundational level hopefully by the end of next year, and they’re moving rather rapidly.”

In Alexandria, where you live can have an impact on your lifespan. According to a 2016 study, residents who lived in Seminary Hill neighborhood, for instance, received an average annual income of $187,000 and 95 percent of them have a college education. In the Beauregard area, the average income is $45,000 per year and only 72 percent have a college education. The life expectancy between residents living in the two areas is 84 years for Seminary Hill and 79 years in Beauregard.

Part of Tucker’s work is developing a Housing Equity Plan that acknowledges historical disparities within African American neighborhoods, potentially eliminates zoning and fair housing impediments, and account for the current effect that COVID-19 is having on rental and housing market.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the actions are necessary to reverse systemic racism in the city.

“We have gone from a government that was an active participant in expanding these inequalities, in addition to just maybe not making them worse but accepting their continuing presence,” Wilson said. “Then we went to try not to exacerbate them further, and now we’re in the next step which is reparative work.”

The city is adopting the Government Alliance on Race and Equity’s Theory of Action in its work:

Normalize

  • Building capacity and knowledge of systemic racism and historically marginalized populations among all City employees
  • Developing shared understanding of key terminology and definitions related to race and social equity
  • Creating opportunities for formal and informal learning in and with community
  • Establishing a city-wide communications style guide and standards

Operationalize

  • Developing and using opportunity mapping to visualize and assess opportunity gaps within Alexandria and drive policy decisions and resources allocation to those most in need
  • Developing department-level indicators to measure progress toward reducing and eliminating disparities identified by ALL Alexandria core teams
  • Understanding and developing skill in using racial equity tools in department decision making processes
  • Creating departmental racial equity action plans

Organize

  • Developing inter-departmental focus on implementing race and social equity in City policy, practice, and budget decisions
  • Developing intra-departmental core teams to identify, assess and evaluate department policy to create strategic actions plans
  • Working with community partners to establish a framework to center the needs and experiences of those most impacted in decision making
  • Supporting community partners and organizations working within Alexandria to advance race and social equity
  • Building and maintaining strategic working relationships with jurisdictions across the region

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