As of this coming Wednesday, water will no longer be racist because that’s when the California State Water Resources Control Board will discuss its 2023-2025 Racial Equity Action Plan.
On the 18th, the Board will discuss – but will not vote to disapprove nor approve as the Action Plan is a “living document” and they passed a resolution calling for it to be created in November of 2021, it seems – the plan as presented.
The epitome of bureaucratic diversity-speak, the plan lays out a number of tasks for itself, its nine regional sub-boards, and the water industry in general in order to best eliminate systemic racism in water delivery and to address the numerous putative past problems.
To wit, this grounding construct for the plan: “Racial equity is a Water Boards’ priority. We are working toward a future where race no longer predicts a person’s access to water or the quality of water resources they receive, where race does not predict professional outcomes for our employees, and where we consistently consider racial equity impacts before we make decisions.”
As noted, the plan grew from a previous Board resolution – passed unanimously – entitled:
CONDEMNING RACISM, XENOPHOBIA, BIGOTRY, AND RACIAL INJUSTICE AND STRENGTHENING COMMITMENT TO RACIAL EQUITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, ACCESS, AND ANTI-RACISM
The resolution continued, stating that “White supremacy is a systemically and institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of nations and people of color by white people for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege…” that “In California, race predicts a person’s access to governmental services and the quality and affordability of the services they receive. This includes the availability of safe drinking water and the collection, treatment, and reuse of wastewater. In fact, race is the strongest predictor of water and sanitation access…” and the need “…to address the disproportionate effects of extreme hydrologic conditions and sea-level rise on Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities…”
For context, it should be noted – regarding the issue of sea-level rise – that Malibu is 92% white.
The plan itself calls for specific race-based project design, informational efforts, and data collection by “Applying a “racial equity lens” (that) means the Water Boards will consider a set of questions throughout its decision-making processes. The racial equity lens questions interrupt the impact of unintended consequences by taking into consideration the lived experiences and perspectives of the racially diverse communities the Water Boards intend to serve.”
Included in the plan are such new processes as “incorporate(ing) racial equity analysis when developing maximum contaminant“ standards (a stricture that could be interpreted in two very different ways,) increasing the hiring of BIPOC staffers, making those who do the hiring take “implicit bias and racial equity training,” and “(A)ctivating BIPOC community wisdom and sharing power” by using “culturally sensitive and gender inclusive” plain language and images.
Throughout, the plan emphasizes outreach to BIPOC and tribal communities in rather standard government speak. What is, however, unusual is that it recommends actually paying “community partners for the time and expertise.”
In other words, the State Water Board will soon be giving money to activists to tell them to make water even less racist.
The plan was developed in close collaboration with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE,) an organization “that is a national network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all.”
The OBI has 40 employees, including a “belonging coordinator,” and is apparently dedicated to a wide range of social efforts, from race to gender to advancing “targeted universalism” (don’t know what that is? see here and be extremely afraid.)
Regarding climate change, for example, the OBI states that “Consistent with a fossil fuel economy and worldview built on othering, it is no accident that those whose material conditions are most profoundly impacted by the (climate) crisis are those who are least responsible for creating it: migrant workers; Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, mostly female low wage care providers, agricultural workers, and so on.”
As for Race Forward, it believes in “operationalizing” equity (not equality because that’s not equal enough it seems…I think) by “building shared relationships within and across the breadth (all functions) and depth (up and down hierarchy) of organizations and sectors to shift power to advance transformative and equitable systems’ change.”
It should be noted that – like with so many of the intertwined widgets of the “social economy” – that only 2 of Race Forward’s 11 board members actually have for-profit private sector jobs (the rest work for foundations and NGO’s and other activist groups), and that one of those private-sector epople is the editor of The Nation magazine, which is only notionally private and hasn’t turned a profit in decades.
That being said, who knew that 60 % of a human body was racist? Now that’s truly systemic.
The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. in the Coastal Hearing Room in the CalEPA building in Sacramento. You can participate remotely if (there are rules, passwords, etc. ) you check out this website first – https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/remote_meeting/ . As for merely watching you can do that here – https://www.youtube.com/user/BoardWebSupport .
Here is the plan:
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