Updated: Feb 16
Special contributor Ryan MCClinton
During the Stephon Clark Uprisings in Sacramento, The Mayor started meeting with different groups to address the concerns around Racial Equity for Black folks and inclusive Economic Development. What we found was that this was one of the first meetings of many to come where the Mayor was selling Measure U as a means to address many of the challenges being voiced at City council.
In this particular meeting with several leaders of local non-profit organizations who serve the Black community and Sacramento's diverse communities of color, specific grievances of exclusion for economic development were brought up.
Of such, I asked directly to the Mayor:
why there wasn’t any discussion at this meeting around the pending development projects at the Railyards, Waterfront and even the potential new soccer stadium to include Black Businesses and contractors?
The question was echoed by one Black woman at the table asking about the different tiered contracts that could allow for smaller Black owned businesses to participate and build their capacity. All of these very valid questions were basically ignored as the Mayor positioned his "right now" proposal for Measure U to have $50 million dollars annually to support Black community economic development that WOULD NOT go to Law Enforcement.
We have since seen the broken promises play out and the exclusion continue creating even greater disparity in economic outcomes for low-income and communities of color in Sacramento.
Further highlighted by Councilwoman Vang's statement (at 2/2 Council meeting) that the City needs to keep a Racial Equity lens on the procurement process as well, which the leader of our City Council as mentioned above had fully avoided responding to those direct sentiments two years earlier.
The leadership we've seen in this short time by councilmembers Katie Valenzuela and Mai Vang are exactly the types of bold leadership this City has deserved for far too long.
Too often BIPOC communities and low income communities suffer at the hands of decision-makers who are fully aware of the systemic elements that could drive the change they are being asked for. Yet too often they play ignorant to ALL of the areas that need to be addressed to create change needs to be implemented.
You can't talk about tangible change without the infrastructure changes that are needed to support it. This goes for everything in between and beyond from education, health care, public safety, first response, housing, economic development, youth services, etc. What will take? For starters, addressing the RFP, RFA, and even staffing policies that lead to that very exclusion of racial equity focus and tangible impact. Also, measuring the outcomes of who is benefited from the current system (policies, procedures, ordinances, contracts) and reconstructing them to address the equity disparities not just for a quick-fix, but rather the sustainable impact and growth.
Ryan McClinton is a Program Manager with Public Health Advocates an organization that brings a public health lens to today’s most pressing problems, helping communities to pass laws, reform systems, and establish norms that foster justice, equity, health. He also spent a number of years as community organizer with Sacramento ACT, a powerful multi-racial, multi-faith organization advocating a transformation of our community rooted in our shared faith values.