How It Came To Be
Back in June, Councilmember Mai Vang requested racial equity training and capacity building for Councilmembers together in a workshop setting. Per usual, Mayor Darrell Steinberg had to put his stank on the request by stating “it should be a focused workshop that brings Council together in a facilitated way.”
The Racial Equity Ad Hoc was first announced during Council comments by the Mayor at the August 24, 2021 meeting “to provide a space for Council to coordinate multiple Council comments and requests regarding racial equity training, tools and capacity building for the City to develop a racial equity lens for decision making.” Councilmembers Schenirer, Guerra, and Vang would also make up the committee.
In September, Councilmember Vang highlighted the main responsibilities for this racial equity ad hoc committee:
1) bring a racial equity workshop to full Council
2) work closely with Race Forward and community in development of racial equity resolution and lens/tool for City decision making
3) ask for racial equity lens/tool or other metrics be used for America
Rescue Plan (ARP) Framework and Funding Priorities. And the Mayor asked for the Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee to meet with City staff to develop a temporary racial equity lens/tool for ARP Framework and Funding Priorities.
And of course Steinberg nominated himself to be the committee’s chair. Thankfully, Councilwoman Mai Vang was selected as this committee’s Vice-Chair at its first meeting on October 6, 2021.
Three weeks after its first meeting, the Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee held its second meeting on October 26, 2021 where Agenda Items included adopting the practice of a Land Acknowledgement statement at the beginning of meetings and to adopt the utilization of a racial equity response tool for evaluating the distribution of American Rescue Plan funds.
The Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee began with hearing an item to adopt a Land Acknowledgement at the beginning of every Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee meeting, with the hope to also get it in front of the city council, who would then adopt it city-wide. This means a Land Acknowledgement statement would be read at the beginning of every Sacramento City Council meeting, its subsidiary committees, boards, and bodies and so on. The Measure U Community Advisory Committee has already adopted this practice at the beginning of their meetings in an intentional and meaningful way.
Britta Guerrero, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sacramento Native American Health Center (SNAHC) and Chairman Jesus Tarango of the Wilton Rancheria Tribe presented on the significance of a Land Acknowledgement statement and the importance of intentionality in its practice.
Britta G. spit facts as she laid it out for the committee:
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory we reside on. Land acknowledgments are not about placing blame. These statements are the first step towards building a more inclusive future where we eliminate the ongoing erasure of Indigenous Peoples’ voices, lives, and history. Land acknowledgements can be an entry point and pathway for education. Our land acknowledgement statement may be your first experience hearing about the Indigenous Peoples in the area, which provides an opportunity to seed the path for learning and for respect to blossom and grow.
Adopting a policy for Land Acknowledgements at the beginning of the Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee and moving this recommendation to the full City Council for inclusion of Land Acknowledgements at all City Council, standing committee, ad hoc, and board and commission meetings is in alignment with the City Council’s stated commitment to advancing racial equity.
Mayor Steinberg was tryin’ … but he just kept not understanding the assignment:
“This is really powerful. Just as we pledge allegiance to the flag at every full meeting, this should be at least equally important and as much as part of our tradition going forward. How do we use this to do even more? (insert White Supremacy Culture trait of ‘Progress is Bigger, More’ here) … I would like us to at least once to have an hour long history lesson from Mister Chairman or Britta about what happened to those tribes or those people, so going forward we have the context.”
This White man was asking the People of Color to do his homework for him (smdh).
Chairman Tarango, in a gentle yet firm manner, set Mister Mayor straight - letting him know that an hour is too short and the history of the Tribes is too rich, all of the tribes have a different story and there are many tribes that shared this land. “Great, let’s start with Wilton!” exclaimed Darrell Steinberg (insert White Supremacy Culture trait of ‘Sense of Urgency’ here).
In an effort to get the Mayor to move beyond the token or symbolic gesture and into deeper, sustainable change, Britta G. reminded Steinberg that ya gotta pay people of color if you want them to do your work: “There are some best practices you can refer to from Southern California, such as having a consultation policy with a local tribe.”
Britta G. went on to add that Indigenous Peoples are not just relics from the past.
We are the original stewards of this land and whose place this was historically - we’re contemporary people living in a modern society and contribute to this society currently, and despite all that has happened - we are still here thriving and persevering and sharing this space and place.
Epic mic drop.
The Land Acknowledgement Practice was unanimously passed by this committee and will now go before the full City Council for its adoption.
Did you know that Sacramento has an Office of Diversity and Equity located in the City Manager’s Office?!?
The second item deliberated by the Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee was to pass a motion authorizing the City Manager or the City Manager's designee to:
1) utilize the draft American Rescue Plan (ARP) racial equity rapid response tool as outlined in the presentation
2) utilize the City's Vulnerability Index (CVI) metrics for evaluating the geographic distribution of resources and vulnerability across the City of Sacramento.
Where has this office been?
It was created in 2016 but took two years before it was stood up to operate. Despite being around since 2018, it’s been relatively ignored until recently (kinda like the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission…). Aimée Barnes is the Diversity and Equity Manager and presented on this item to the committee, with support from Assistant City Manager Leyne Milstein.