County Manager Column from July 21, 2020
This column was originally published as a "From the County Manager" column on our employee intranet.
Board commits to further advance racial equity
In May 2019, our organization adopted a policy statement as a commitment to advance racial equity and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in Ramsey County. That statement provides leaders and employees at all levels with the responsibility of applying the policy to core services and essential functions of our organization. This morning following a thoughtful conversation, our board voted to expand the policy statement to elected officials as well. As critically, the board also formally acknowledged that the legacy of harm caused by racism requires recognition, reconciliation and repair. They affirmed taking a holistic approach in partnership with community to advance preventative strategies so that race may not be a determinant of health and other outcomes for residents.
You may have heard, local governments across the county have been declaring racism as a public health crisis. As a health equity data analysis conducted in 2017 by our Public Health department shows, structural racism is a primary factor in disparate health outcomes. Today’s actions by our board both acknowledge the harm done through this history – that racism is an ongoing public health issue with a legacy of crisis – and also seek to build on the multiple related efforts that have been underway at Ramsey County. These efforts have been both through a public health approach and several other organizational structures to advance racial equity and combat racism across all of our areas of service delivery. By adopting the policy statement for elected officials in addition to all staff, our organization is now fully aligned around this approach.
These efforts include our strategic priorities, equity-focused budgeting, racial equity impact analyses, data tracking and reporting, aligning strategy to funding and action, justice system reform, structural changes to empower community decision-making and staff trainings - just to name a few. Significant work remains, however, and today’s acknowledgement of recent efforts or progress must be placed alongside a recognition that more must be done to address history, intergenerational harm and a push for systemic changes in partnership with the community that we are here to serve.
I urge you to take some time out to watch the video posted above to see the conversation for yourself. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Ramsey County’s vision as a vibrant community where all are valued and thrive.