The July 2020 Board motion that established the ARDI Initiative, defined structural racism, as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity” and compels the County to address disparate outcomes through the lens of equity. Utilizing a lens of equity requires the acknowledgment that each person has different circumstances, backgrounds and starts from a different place. While we will continue to strive for equality, which is the idea that “each individual or group of people is treated the same, given the same resources or expected to take advantage of the same opportunities”, we recognize the needs of communities within Los Angeles County vary widely. Solely focusing on equality does not address the structural and historical disparities that have created harm and have impacted intergenerational life outcomes and created the material conditions communities of color face today.
Equity, on the other hand, refers to “the idea that differences matter and that systems must be balanced to distribute resources and opportunities needed to reach equal outcomes by treating everyone justly according to their circumstances.” By focusing on equity, we can actively identify, acknowledge, and repair the harm that has occurred from discriminatory, unjust and unlawful practices. By utilizing an equity lens, ARDI will guide LA County towards achieving racial equity. Racial equity refers to what a genuinely non-racist society would look like. In a racially equitable society, the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race. In other words, racial equity would be a reality in which a person is no more or less likely to experience society’s benefits or burdens just because of the color of their skin. It demands that we pay attention not just to individual-level discrimination, but to overall social outcomes.
To achieve a non-racist society where the “distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race, LA County must have a bold vision to help guide our direction and create a unified approach to achieve our goals.”