Testimony of the Federal City Alumnae Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
In Support of the Passage of and Full Funding of
“Racial Equity Achieves Results Act of 2019,” B23-0038.
The Federal City Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is committed to advocating for racial equity and justice in the District of Columbia. We recognize many intersecting oppressions, but our belief is that racism serves as a catalyst to all oppressions, particularly in the United States, thus our focus on injustices stemming from a hyper racialized history as well as belief systems that are reflected in our culture and institutions.
As members of Delta Sigma Theta, we strive to advance racial equity across our country. Racial equity is achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicts one’s ability to achieve. This includes the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.
According to the District’s history, the mayor and the Board of Aldermen, the precursor to the Council of the District of Columbia, legislated the first set of Black Codes, which sought to solidify slavery as an institution and enhanced racial segregation in the city. Our history continues to contribute to the racial segregation we witness today. More than 70% of its Black or white residents would have to move in order for the two groups to be equally distributed.
Residential segregation created distinct pathways to opportunity, or lack thereof. This has determined the quality of schools our children attend, employment opportunities, stable housing options and the availability of healthy food and amenities like green space.
In 2011, the District’s African-American population dropped below 50 percent for the first time in more than 50 years. In addition to the decline in the Black population, the District’s disparities in wealth, employment, homeownership rates, educational and health outcomes continue to grow. The following are highlights of those disparities:
- Median annual income in DC for white families is $120,000. It is $41,000 for Black families
- White households have a net worth 81 times greater than Black households: $284,000 versus $3,500.4
Although we are 50 years from achieving significant civil rights’ gains, the impact of race continues to shape the outcomes of America’s institutions. We cannot address inequities until we are clear on the role of race and racism in our country and continue to live in our social structures and institutions. Racial inequity looks the same across various systems. Socio-economic differences do not always explain racial inequity; and inequities are caused by systems, regardless of a people’s culture or behavior.
For these reasons, we fully support the passage and full funding of the “Racial Equity Achieves Results Act of 2019,” B23-0038. It is essential that all District Government employees undergo continuous equity and implicit bias training, to ensure traditionally oppressed populations are treated fairly, despite the centuries of racist behavior and culture that shapes our views of society.
In order to accomplish this, there must be policies and metrics in place to measure progress and intended outcomes. In addition, there must be a racial equity impact assessment tool and budget equity tool to be used throughout the branches of District Government. Finally, it is imperative that the members of the community, especially those who have experienced racially implicit bias, have a voice in the process. This concludes our testimony and we look forward to working together on this important matter.