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Letter from the Editor: Racial Equity

Community development practitioners are becoming increasingly aware of and focused on how their work advances goals of racial equity, which is distinct from racial equality. As founding president of PolicyLink, Angela Glover Blackwell, put it, “Equality gives everyone the right to ride on the bus, in any seat they choose. Equity ensures there are bus lines where people need them so they can get to school or the doctor or work”, providing an example of the the (socially constructed) disparate access and outcome divides that are often drawn between racial groups. The inherent nature of this truth isn’t always easy to accept and may often feel too lofty to solve for, but as practitioners working on behalf of and living as a part of communities of color, we must be cognizant of the positions we hold, the practices we employ that are mired in systems of oppression and intentionally solve for it at every juncture.  

While our process of compiling best practices and resources from around the industry revealed that there is no single, simple approach to tackling racial equity work, we are honoring Black History Month and the legacy of all of those that have paved the way for us to do this work, by highlighting some of the strategies and tools that we came across in this month’s Spotlight on Racial Equity.  We have a great deal more to learn, but we are leveraging the Institute platform to highlight our commitment to being agile in our learning, activation and engagement related to racial equity work.  

To begin, we are featuring resources that we consider to be foundational in understanding how to think about racial equity in community and economic development. We are feautring racial equity assessment tools from Race Forward and review notes from Living Cities and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference on their statements on shifting from implied to explicit stance on racial equity work. We're also highlighting resources around advancing a policy agenda to ensure equitable access and outcomes to all constituents, like in the case of Baltimore, as well as elevating the economic imperative of racial equity as our peers at Policy Link include in their equity framework, racial equity work is being actualized. Finally, we have also included a Q&A with InSite, a group that partnered with our LISC Phoenix office, to convene local stakeholders and think through how creative placemaking projects can be used to preserve the existing community around the South Phoenix Rail Extension.  

Racial equity further informs a thorough approach to addressing community needs and affirms our mission to invest comprehensively in communities of color.