I wish I had as much time today to write about this as I did to write about Mayor Murray's new Gender Equity Initiative yesterday, but I'm at least happy to share his executive order affirming the city's commitment to the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI). The RSJI is a complex program started under former mayor Greg Nickels that aims to help the city address institutional racial inequities in a systemic, structural way—through training, through outreach, by using the lens of racial equity in governmental decision-making. (Here's a city brochure all about the RSJI, if you want more information on the initiative.)
When Murray let go Julie Nelson, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, it made a lot of people nervous. Nelson had worked for the city for decades and worked wholeheartedly on the RSJI; did this mean Murray's commitment to the initiative was less than solid? Today, he's demonstrating a commitment to the program and a vision for how to use it.
Much of it is just a firm commitment to keep using the RSJI as a tool—in budgeting, in policy-making, in training, the way it has been for a while. It also says the city will prioritize racial equity work in the areas of "education, equitable development, and criminal justice" in 2014, and that the city will be partnering with educational institutions to end racial disparities in education. And it focuses on measurable outcomes, directing the Office for Civil Rights to "establish and implement new goals, and track outcomes over time and publish a report on an annual basis to report the City’s progress towards achieving racial equity."