As we all know, everything is racist.
From archaeology to zoos, the eternal scourge permeates every aspect of life.
And that’s why the California Arts Council is doing something about it…or saying something about it…or at least putting words next to each other that seem to refer to it…or at the very least, letting the rest of the world that they aren’t racist…well, very much, kinda.
With an annual budget of at least $26 million – and more than an extra $100 million this past year to support such projects as a Creative Corps to address COVID and voting through art “to use artists to encourage proper public-health practices during the pandemic. In the expanded program, artists will continue that effort and create campaigns to encourage water and energy conservation and civic engagement, including voting” (per sfcv.org) – the Council seems to have a great deal of explicitly political work to do already but “anti-racism” remains a focus.
Per the Council’s (rather extremely poorly written) “Racial Equity Statement”:
The CAC’s equity goal is to create a sense of belonging that is so palpable, it is universally experienced. Pursuit of justice in this arena benefits everyone by taking a critical eye to systems of oppression – systems that undercut fairness across multiple demographics, conditions, and experiences. By prioritizing attention to racial equity, everyone will benefit because racial injustice is the most pervasive and entrenched form of injustice permeating the institutions and systems that everyone must access.
You can read the whole Racial Equity Statement here – but if one is not a mind to do so it should be noted that the Council seems to be considering explicit discrimination and to being “Led by our Racial Equity Statement, we will fully integrate race equity into every aspect of our operations and programs and work toward the dismantling of structural racism wherever we encounter it and improving CAC outcomes for all.”
The Council also goes into the whys and wherefores and offers assistance, just in case you or your (potential grant-applying-for) organization needed a bit of help navigating priorities:
Racial equity means closing the gaps so that race no longer predicts one’s success, while also improving outcomes for all. To close the gaps, we center communities of color to focus improvements for those most impacted by racial inequity, moving beyond services to transform policies, institutions, and structures.
To the CAC, racial equity means that we use a race explicit and not race exclusive approach to systems change. For example, disaggregating data by race to see the real impacts of our investments across various communities. We are also learning from Disability Justice organizers and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality. The CAC understands that many intersecting experiences and identities contribute to a community or individuals’ experience of systemic oppression, therefore our understanding of racial equity is grounded in an intersectional approach.
Again, for the full impact one can visit the CAC Racial Equity Learning Sources page, though, fascinatingly the page seems to call out – if not by name and most likely accidentally– a certain very very large Los Angeles school district as racist:
Example (of systemic racism): A school district that concentrates students of color in the most overcrowded, under-funded schools with the least experienced teachers.
Of course, no plan is complete without graphic elements and many Californians may be surprised that a state agency is promoting and/or relying on the following construct:
To be blunt, following that flow chart can be difficult and the term “femicide” may be new to most and an exact definition of the evils of “inflammation” – short of a golf or hangover-related injury – is rather unclear but the intent seems obvious.
Of course, no state racial equity policy would be complete without a demand for governmental involvement in matters of race (As Joe Biden would ((try)) to say, “Bull Connor would be proud.”)
Why should government lead with race?
From the inception of our country, government at the local, regional, state and federal level has played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequity. Despite progress in addressing explicit discrimination, racial inequities continue to be deep, pervasive and persistent across the country. Government can implement policy change at multiple levels and across multiple sectors to drive larger systemic change. It is important to note that to achieve long-term impact, changes must be sustainable. Working for racial equity at the state, local and regional level can allow for meaningful education with community and other institutions that will ensure sustainability. (Source: Government Alliance on Race & Equity)
Usually at this point in the story a witty and/or snide quip would be expected.
But, other to say that at least it seems that the Council is not organizing quarterly “anti-racism” staff lunches – as is being done by the Cultural Council in Massachusetts – and to wonder exactly what kind of sandwich is the least racist – or most anti-racist – I am at a loss for words.
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