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Discussing Systemic and Institutional Racial Inequities in Austin

Austin Area Funders met on February 6, 2018 to discuss systemic and institutional racial inequities in Austin. The discussion was led by Kazique Prince, senior policy advisor & education coordinator, City of Austin and Ashton Cumberbatch, Mayor Adler’s Community Cabinet.

The meeting opened up with an intimate question: what was your earliest memory/experience of race? Folks in the room told their personal stories of when race first became apparent to them, and Prince brought to attention that the room mostly associated their first memories with racism and not race itself, and it was responses like these that alter our view of race; “it does not always have to be negative,” he urged. 

Prince and Cumberbatch both discussed the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities and the subsequent report released last April. The Mayor’s charge was not an easy task; he asked the Task Force to identify recommendations to dismantle institutional racism & systemic inequities in Austin region, and gave a six month timeline to do so. 

The report includes 250 recommendations focused on criminal & civil justice; finance, banking & industry; education; health; and real estate & housing. 

The panelists went on to describe the need for financial resources and philanthropic investments to implement all recommendations in the report.  It would take a multifaceted, multiyear and multi-sector approach to fully address racial inequity in Austin. 

The implementation process will focus on equity services, a cohesive communication and public relations plan and training leadership across all sectors in a “Beyond Diversity” training to develop a racial equity lens to apply to their businesses and organizations. 

“This has never been done before in a city,” Prince said to the room. “We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, we have the potential to set an example for other cities facing similar racial inequities.” 

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Austin Area Funders is a group of charitable foundations and other funders that meet monthly to focus on our community's most pressing needs, emerging trends in the field of philanthropy and opportunities to network with foundation peers.