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Antiracism as government policy? County supervisors will decide soon

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The anti-racism movement in Los Angeles County is moving from the streets to the halls of power.
The antiracism movement in Los Angeles County is moving from protest marches to the halls of power.
On Tuesday, the L. A. County Board of Supervisors is slated to begin debate over a proposal aimed at strengthening county efforts to address racial inequality.
Introduced by the county’s lone Black supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and inspired by the protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, the measure would attempt to shape the county bureaucracy around potentially holding county officials accountable if they fail to uphold more aggressive antiracist policies.
If passed, Los Angeles County would become the 24th county in the country since last year to declare racism as a matter of public health, according to the National Assn. of Counties.
“I’m hoping this will cause people to be more serious about the very demeaning and disenfranchising effects of institutionalized racism and its intergenerational impacts,” Ridley-Thomas said in an interview with The Times.
A term that only recently exploded into the public consciousness, especially among white people, antiracism is defined by Ridley-Thomas through a reference to Ibram X. Kendi’s 2019 book, “How to Be an Antiracist”: “Any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups.”
Applying that definition to public policy will be up for debate in coming weeks.
The proposal would create an antiracist framework within the vast bureaucracy of the nation’s most populous county, from healthcare to law enforcement, to ensure that all policies address inequities faced by Black residents. Department heads would be evaluated on their efforts to meet at least one goal of the antiracist policy agenda. The county would also be graded annually through an annual report on the state of Black people in the county, authored by a university or research institute.
The measure is likely to stir some skepticism that it doesn’t go far enough. It does not specifically mention defunding any law enforcement entity, which is of overriding importance to some activists. Other activists question any measure that doesn’t come with significant funding.

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