Boulder City Council Adopts Racial Equity Resolution

Boulder City Council has passed a resolution promoting “Racial Equity,” acknowledging the origin and impacts of historic and current racism in the Boulder community. Roz Brown reports that councilmembers also acknowledged that it was only a first step in addressing the complex issue of systemic racism.

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    Boulder City Council Adopts Racial Equity Resolution KGNU News

City Council wasn’t supposed to take-up the Racial Equity Resolution until next year – but it was deemed more urgent after a councilmember angered some residents with comments interpreted as insensitive to the ongoing societal effects of white privilege. Councilmember Mirabai Nagel was harshly criticized in November after defending the selection of two white, property-owning males to serve as mayor and deputy mayor over objections from several Boulder residents who said the decision did not reflect Boulder’s commitment to diversity. That issue did not come up during a public hearing last night. Instead, speaker Katie Farnan said she appreciated council bringing the equity resolution forward in a timely manner.

“I am worried about the next steps and how binding this resolution really is,” said Farnan.

Nicole Perelman was also worried about accountability.

“I was thinking about what would be a good analogy about this process, a Boulder analogy, and what I came up with is you guys have a tricycle now and it could be a Prius,” said Perelman. “We have something here that’s full of intent, but its wording could be vague or squishy and I want to make sure there’s a genuine commitment and you get more specific to get to the Prius.” 

The “getting beyond squishy to a Prius” analogy resonates, because the new equity resolution has much in common with one adopted 18 years ago. That declaration, Boulder United Against Racism, was passed by city council after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Despite the déjà vu, chair of the city’s Human Relations Commission, Nikhil Mankekar said every step is important.

“I’ve been getting a lot of feedback saying, ‘We passed these resolutions before – we had one in 2001 and in 2015, what do they really mean?’” said Mankekar. “But sometimes it’s good to make a note of all these positive steps of equity and inclusion in the community and we hope to see them continue.” 

The new racial equity resolution promotes equity in city relationships, programs, services and policies. It also tackles Boulder’s history, acknowledging that racism was embedded in public policy adopted by the city in the 1800s and early 1900s – policy that led to white residents enjoying privileges that people of color did not. Councilmember Junie Joseph, said she was encouraged by the community dialogue.

“This discussion is very inspiring and says our community wants change and we’re going at it, and in the future I encourage citizens to come to meetings and hold us accountable,” said Joseph.

Some public speakers wanted council to delay a vote on the resolution until tools could be developed and adopted to measure the city’s progress on the initiative, but councilmember Mary Young felt it was time to move forward.

“This resolution has been in the works for quite a while,” said Young. “It’s the council’s commitment to this work and the community is welcome to write its own resolution to also commit to this work.” 

Young also encouraged members of the community to participate in future meetings to create metrics for accountability to ensure the new racial equity resolution succeeds.

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    Boulder City Council Adopts Racial Equity Resolution KGNU News

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