Race Equity Movement on Bainbridge island/ Race Equity Task Force

From Erin Phillips

On October 23, 2018, eleven Bainbridge Islanders shared their stories about racism on the island with City Council.  As people of color and white citizens, we made the case for the City of Bainbridge Island to do something about it.  This was the beginning of the Race Equity Network. 

When we talk about ‘racism,’ it’s not the type of racism that people might think of – not bigotry (though there is that too) but a subtler type of racism, where children and adults alike quickly adopt the idea that white culture is preferable to theirs. On top of that is the issue of representation.  Our children need to be able to look up and see leaders of all kinds – teachers, principals, health care providers, police officers, CEO’s, City Council members - that look like them. We see this work as a  vital part of the Cultural Element goals in the 2017 Comprehensive Plan.

Race Equity Network ((REN) is a partner organization to the School District’s Multi-Cultural Advisory Council ( MAC). Assistant Superintendent Sheryl Belt has affirmed  that the administration needed help in educating the public as to why hiring practices and curriculum needed to change to be more equitable for all students.  

The focus of the Race Equity Network ( REN) is two-fold:  

  • Educating the public about the need for race equity efforts in this community, through sharing personal testimonies to art-related activities, to trainings and speakers. Many in this community do not see a need for race equity work, or believe it is an issue.  We see this as a question of awareness 

  • Fostering connections between individuals and groups already doing this work to increase overall impact.   

 In 2019 , the City ‘s Race Equity Task Force will begin work . Anyone who is a resident of Bainbridge Island can apply to be on the task force or attend meetings. Further information can be foundhere:

Here are some of the goals we have identified for this Task Force: 

Raise the awareness of City Council members and City staff about the historical impact on racism today, institutional racism, white privilege and related issues. 

Introduce a race equity toolkit, that guides local government on adopting policies that will result in more equitable outcomes for people. 

What are REN’s goals with the City?

  • The Council will understand that they represent 100% of the population, not just 90%.  A concerted outreach effort should be adopted so that we can find out what our communities of color need.

  • Citizens will have a clear way of reporting acts of discrimination, so we can track them and do follow-up as necessary. 

  • The City and its partners will launch a campaign that signals visually to its residents, as well as visitors, that Bainbridge does not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other form of discrimination.  

  • Finally, to determine whether t a more permanent advisory council needs to be established, so that we can continue doing this vital work.

We believe that 2019 is the year for real progress on this front. We are creating the foundation. People are ready to mobilize.There is great momentum for change.

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