This week, the City of Long Beach announced plans for a “Framework for Reconciliation in Long Beach,” as unanimously approved by the City Council. Acknowledging the existence and long-standing impacts of systemic racism in Long Beach and the country, the initiative will provide a framework for engaging the public in a reconciliation process, internal process review and local action plan.
“Systemic racism exists in all public institutions, and that includes Long Beach,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We have an opportunity to listen to the community that is demanding change and take action on solutions to address racial injustices and equity for all.”
The Framework for Reconciliation in Long Beach centers around four key steps:
• Acknowledging the existence and long-standing impacts of systemic racism in Long Beach and the country.
• Listening to accounts and experiences of racial injustice, inequity, or harm of community members.
• Convening stakeholders to evaluate the feedback from the listening process and shape policy, budgetary, charter and programmatic reform ideas.
• Catalyzing action, presenting immediate, short-term, medium-term, and long-term recommendations for the City Council’s consideration.
Starting next week, Long Beach residents will have the opportunity to participate in a series of collaborative, focus-group style community listening sessions to engage in and provide ideas for creating meaningful change for all aspects of inequity and racial injustice. Over 10 sessions will be held over the next two weeks with top City management, connecting with stakeholders in the Black community, as well as the entire city of Long Beach.
The sessions will begin June 18 and continue through July. To comply with the City’s health orders and physical distancing measures, listening sessions will be held virtually at this time.
Additional details and registration information can be found on the City of Long Beach Office of Equity website. Community members are encouraged to complete a brief online survey, and can submit their questions, ideas and inquiries about how to get involved by emailing: EquityLB@longbeach.gov. All comments will be reviewed, organized into thematic areas, and shared with policy makers and the public.
Initial listening session topics, dates and times are as follows:
A team of City staff from various departments, led by Interim Deputy City Manager Teresa Chandler in the City Manager’s Office, will then convene with local stakeholders to evaluate the feedback and help shape policy, budgetary and reform ideas for City Council consideration to implement structural reform in July and August.
“We understand that racism and community trauma is a serious problem,” said City Manager Tom Modica. “The pain we are seeing from our community is real. It needs light, it needs discussion, and it needs action. The time is now.”
For decades in the United States and Long Beach, a history of unfair laws and practices, including hiring discrimination, redlining and exclusionary zoning practices, and underfunded schools and insufficient investment in education, fostered racial inequities in health, wealth, and opportunity, and created many obstacles for people of color and low-income residents.
In Long Beach, the COVID-19 pandemic has especially impacted the Black community. Black residents make up 13% of the population, yet account for 23% of COVID-19 deaths. Black residents are also hospitalized for asthma 9.4 times more often than White residents. Air pollution and diesel exhaust from trucks, ships and trains pose extreme health hazards, and housing for Black people and low-income residents is typically adjacent to these problematic usage areas.
Eliminating racial inequities in income and wealth would benefit families, communities, and the local and regional economy. Today, average incomes for White workers in Long Beach are double those of Latinx workers and at least one and a half times those of Black, Asian or Pacific Islander and other communities of color.