Delaware lawmakers advance Racial Equity Consortium bill
DELAWARE – A piece of First State legislation is aiming to continue the work of the African American Task Force (AATF). House Bill 375 would create a Racial Equity Consortium. Lawmakers say the group will be dedicated to researching and instructing state agencies on ways that racial equity can be achieved.
Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware Mike Brickner says issues within the criminal justice and education systems, and inequitable opportunities for small businesses, employment, and housing create barriers for Delaware’s citizens of color.
“That’s not just a 2022 phenomenon. That has really been the case for generations,” he said. “All of those are things that need attention. Having a Racial Equity Consortium where those issues are discussed and vetted, and recommendations are made, can be a really important place.”
While Brickner says certain white Delawareans can face similar challenges, the inequities that people of color face are deep-rooted in systemic injustice. “I would just encourage folks to look at the data. Poverty and other social issues affect folks in a whole range of demographics. But, we know that people of color disproportionately feel the impacts of these negative systems,” he said. “Across the board, when you look at access and overall opportunity and outcomes for individuals, people of color often times disproportionately have bad outcomes.”
The bill comes after the First State’s AATF made a recommendation to create the consortium. “The Consortium will provide advice and support to the state, regarding state agencies’ role in identifying and eliminating disparities and inequities experienced by citizens of color in the state,” said AATF Chair and bill sponsor Representative Stephanie T. Bolden.
Rep. Bolden says Delaware State University students will aid in research, and crafting the recommendations. “The Consortium is vital for continuing the work of the African American Task Force in making recommendations to address the challenges that people of color face,” she said. “They will facilitate collaborative partnerships to eliminate fiscal inequalities and disparities, and recommend legislation and regulations to address inequities.”
Brickner says that connection between citizens of color and lawmakers is crucial, especially when it comes to making real change. “You want the folks who are closest to the problem to also be a part of the solution,” he said. “Those folks will be able to speak from their own experience, and identify the problems that are actually occurring in their community.”
Wednesday, the bill was heard in the Delaware General Assembly’s House Administration Committee. It received a favorable vote from each member to move on to the next step in the legislative process. Rep. Bolden says the fiscal note for the Consortium bill is the same as 2021’s Redding Consortium for Educational Equity: $240,000 per year.