Boulder Adopts Racial Equity Plan

Boulder has adopted a plan to achieve a collective vision of racial equity. In a unanimous vote last night, KGNU’s Roz Brown reports Boulder City Council said it was a first step in addressing systemic and institutional racism in its policies and practices.

Listen to the report here:

The plan is a “how-to” manual to address racial equity in housing, unemployment, education, justice, and health. Boulder City Council adopted its first racial equity plan last night, noting it’s a living document – a road map for how to address systemic and institutional racism when it comes to policies and practices. Speaking at the virtual public hearing, Lucas Shaffer said the plan should be just the beginning.

“The plan acknowledges the extraordinary and terrible historical impact of racism,” said Shaffer. “As a white community, we must acknowledge that systemic changes will likely be necessary because racism is entwined in every level of policy and will likely require some significant policy reversals.”

Councilmember Mary Young, who spent significant time working on the document, said the plan does not address how community members themselves will help meet racial equity goals.

“I hope that community members will also do the work,” said Young. “It’s not easy work because it requires reflection to identify your own biases and it’s even harder to address them.”

It was a unanimous vote by the nine council members to adopt the plan, but nearly all including councilman Aaron Brockett suggested tackling inherent racism would take time.

“It’s an important step to adopt this plan but it’s insufficient,” said Brockett. “We have centuries to of oppression to fight against, and we need to hold ourselves accountable.”

The Racial Equity Alliance says plans like the one adopted by Boulder can put a theory of change into action to drive institutional and structural change, but it must be backed by time and money to change the way municipalities do business. To that end, several speakers asked the city to examine how to reallocate resources dedicated to the Boulder Police Department – which has the largest budget of any city department at nearly $37M.

Councilmember Junie Joseph expressed appreciation for the community’s intensity over racial justice.

“You hold us to the fire and that’s how we get better because you hold us to the fire,” said Joseph. “All of us have blind spots and I’m working on mine. This is a progressive community, but we are dealing with the same issues that less progressive communities are dealing with.”

Boulder is currently in the process of soliciting community feedback to create a new master plan to reimagine the role police should play in the community.

Read Boulder’s Racial Equity Plan here.