'Advancing Equity' is Now a Core Goal of San Antonio City Government

The trendy new buzzword at City Hall is 'equity,' and the City's new Chief Equity Officer says all City functions, from policing to fixing potholes, will now be carried out with the goal of advancing equity and eliminating 'implicit bias,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Promoting fairness within policies, procedures, and the distribution of resources," Equity officer Kiran Bains told City Council.  "By accounting for the different needs, challenges, and histories of the city population."

Bains says 'equity' will be a 'enbedded as a core operating principle across the city organization,' and all city departments and employees will take courses on recongizing and acting to eliminate implicit bias.

What is 'implicit bias?'  Bains cites an incident recently where the City's Solid Waste Department was dealing with the recycling bins becoming fouled by dirty diapers.

"They shared with us that they first learned about the high contamination of recycling bins, and they thought among themselves and with their team, 'I think this is a problem that is on the west side and south side of San Antonio'," she said.

In fact, the dirty diapers being placed in recycling bins was happing all around the city, but 'implicit bias' prompted officials to focus taxpayer resources in the wrong place.

Dr. Christine Drennon, a professor at Trinity University, says studies have determined that San Antonio is among the most 'economically segregated cities in America,' and says says that is bad for the City and for all of its residents.

"If you are born into a more prosperous part of the community, you have a significantly greater chance of succeeding," she said.  "If you grow up in a more distressed neighborhood you are destined for a live of poverty.  What happened to the idea of the city as a beacon of hope, of the city as a place where I can do better than my parents did?  That is the American dream, that is how we were all raised."

Bains says inequity is not random, and that means the City must do more to identify it and fight it.

"We therefore, have public servants, have a responsibility to end inequity and advance equity."

She says the concept of ending inequity and implicit bias will be part of the new city budget being announced today, and will be a core function of the city moving forward.

She says equity, unlike equality, does not require that some people be made disadvantaged so others can gain advantage.  She cited one example about how the issue of advancing equity has benefitted everybody.

She cited the move in the 1970s to begin creating 'curb cuts' for disabled individuals to get from the street to the sidewalk in wheelchairs.  She says that did not only not 'damage' fully abled individuals, in fact, curb cuts are now benefitting everybody from mothers pushing baby strollers to workers dragging heavy carts.  Everybody gained due to an effort to achieve 'equity.'

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