Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has appointed a Racial Justice Council to advise her on the next state budget and to help reform a wide range of state programs and policies.
“For far too long, Oregon’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color and Tribal members haven’t had a seat at the table,” Brown said in a July 31 announcement. “The urgency could not be greater to center the voices of those who are most impacted by historical and institutional racism in Oregon and create a better system — together — that fully supports us all. Our budgets, policy agenda and priorities should reflect, support and honor the communities who have been most deeply impacted by systemic racism.”
The 23 members of the council include representatives of such organizations as the Urban League of Portland, the Coalition of Communities of Color, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and others.
“I’m excited to be joining the Racial Justice Council and working with the governor and her office,” said Kayse Jama, council member and Unite Oregon executive director. “We need state leadership during these times, and our communities have waited a long time to ensure people of color, immigrants and refugees and rural voices are reflected in budgets and policy priorities. We have a lot of work to do right away, and I am excited for the opportunity.”
According to the announcement, the council has subgroups focused on criminal justice reform and police accountability, health equity, economic opportunity, housing and homelessness and environmental justice/natural resources.
The council will examine and begin to dismantle the racist policies that have created grave disparities in virtually every part of our society, including: mass incarceration, prison and criminal justice, access to housing, health outcomes, economic opportunity and wealth creation and education.
The council members come from a diverse set of backgrounds with a majority from Black, Indigenous and people of color communities, the announcement said.
The announcement also said the council will:
• Recommend changes to state policies, practices and budgets to align them within a racial justice and equity framework.
• Provide guidance for racial justice action plans for criminal justice and police accountability, housing and homelessness, economic opportunity, health equity and environmental justice.
• Develop long-term strategies designed to institutionalize racial justice into the way the state conducts every aspect of its business.
• Directly communicate with other community leaders and bring their feedback to the council.
• Identify areas of potential future collaboration with the state and outside stakeholders.
• Direct the collection of data from across sectors of society to support smart, data-driven policy decisions.
• Provide principles and recommendations that center racial justice to the governor to inform the 2021-23 governor’s recommended budget.
• Include the participation of state legislators to support passage of policies in the 2021 legislative session.
"Achieving these goals will require a new approach. Establishing racial justice will take foundational reform. The Racial Justice Council will be inclusive of representatives from diverse backgrounds, while at the same time explicitly centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color as the council works with Governor Brown’s administration to implement policies for an equitable Oregon," the announcement said.
Readers can find more information about the council, including its membership, at oregon.gov/gov/policy/racial-justice-council.