Contra Costa County, California – Nationwide focus in 2020 put the spotlight on addressing racial inequities and pushing for greater social justice reforms at all levels. Contra Costa County has answered with the formation of an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ).
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the formation. They gave the new office the task of advancing social justice principals at the Nov. 10 meeting. It is expected to be in place by mid-2021. A six-month community planning process will involve notable contributions from the county’s people of color.
Operating as a division under the supervision of the County Administrator’s Office, RESJ builds on the county’s rich history of backing efforts focused on equity and inclusion.
The RESJ, brought forward by Supervisors John Gioia and Federal Glover, was initially discussed in 2017 as well as in subsequent years.
The latest proposal focused on a “transformational shift within county government,” with “the initial priority to eliminate structural racism.”
The office will bolster coordination and expansion of the county’s work on equity and inclusion. They will partner with community organizations, cities and school districts to work on social justice and racial equity issues.
The office will work to acknowledge and end disparities. They will look into making changes in:
- health outcomes
- resource and service allocation
- land use decisions (environmental justice)
- law enforcement and criminal justice system practices
Opportunity for change
“The need for change is urgent, and the opportunity for change is now,” states the authors’ proposal. The new staff will help cultivate and sustain a county ecosystem rooted in belonging, mutuality, equity and justice. They will also add a sense of urgency to their task.
The foundation for this office dates back to 2017, when the county’s Government Alliance on Race and Equity Cohort developed a proposal for an Office of Human Rights and Equity. This led to the comprehensive Racial
The Board of Supervisors established a Racial Justice Task Force in 2018. Because of their work, the county has recommendations to reduce racial disparities in the justice system. County officials also have established a Racial Justice Oversight Body. This group recommends and implements policies to reduce racial disparities in the justice system. They also developed Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice training programs and created the Impact Justice Diversion Program in the District Attorney’s Office. They also developed Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice training programs and created the Impact Justice Diversion Program in the District Attorney’s Office.
These efforts further the board’s past backing of programs such as Stand Together Contra Costa, Contra Costa Cares and Gateways for Growth Challenge, all of which focused attention on the needs of immigrants.