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Loudoun Supervisors Pledge to Govern Through ‘Equity Lens’. Too Many Damn White People

The Loudoun County BOS consists of privileged demagogs. The amount of damage this equity crap is going to cause in incalculable.

LoudounNow: Jan 17, 2023 Updated Jan 20, 2023

One day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations, county supervisors approved a resolution adopting “Social and Racial Equity as Fundamental Values” of the county government.

The resolution defines equity as “a fundamental value defined as the commitment to promote fairness and justice in the formation of priorities, policies, and programs.” It also states the Board of Supervisors commits to evaluating the county’s budget, personnel decisions, policies and programs through an “equity lens,” and to collecting data to identify disparities in county services. And the resolution proposes developing an Equity Plan to address those gaps.

It also directs the county administrator to report to the board annually on the county government’s equity initiatives, present a proposal for that Equity Plan, and add to staff’s budget development work an extensive analysis of how expenditures benefit or negatively impact different people and groups, how that was decided, and how to promote equity and inclusion.

Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) pointed to statistics indicating Black Americans are much more likely to die in childbirth, to develop and die from some kinds of cancer, to be diagnosed with diabetes, not to own a house, to drop out of school, and to receive harsher sentences in court.

“And this maybe is the most heartbreaking stat of today—African Americans are 19 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted,” she said. “Nineteen times more likely. We’re just being thrown in jail for nothing, literally. … These are systemic race issues in America.”

Those inequities are reflected in Loudoun—the U.S. Department of Justice’s most recent Census of Jails showed in 2019 Loudoun’s jail population was 35.4% Black, while the Census Bureau estimated that year the county’s population was only 9.8% Black or Black and multiracial. The Census Bureau estimates that in 2021, the median household income for Black household in Loudoun was 77% of that for white households.

“I love this country with my whole heart, but loving something does not mean you overlook its foibles and problems. Loving something means you look at them, figure them out, and decide that you want to try to work on them,” Randall said. “Being colorblind is ridiculous. You cannot celebrate what you cannot see. That’s never the goal, to be color blind.”

“I have to wonder, as a nation, how we can be brave enough to put a man on the moon and fight two world wars for democracy, but we can’t be brave enough to give up some of our power for the benefit of others,” Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) said. “How can we not be brave enough to learn about and publicly acknowledge bad racist and sexist policies, and their impacts, and then work to resolve the legacy impacts?”

The only supervisor to vote against the resolution, Supervisor Caleb E. Kershner (R-Catoctin), said it would inject race into the county government’s decisions.

“We fought a whole war in this country because government was making those decisions based on race, and we fought that war, we went through the civil rights movement, we went through so much in this country … Are we perfect? No. Have we changed some of that? Yes. Are we moving in the right direction? Correct. But guess what? Now, we’re going to have government, it’s going to be looking at all these various areas with the lens of race,” he said.

Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said he abstained because of a passage in the board’s rules of order that resolutions should be noncontroversial.

In public comment sessions before the vote, people lined up to argue both for and against the equity resolution. Some supervisors reacted strongly to people who used the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to argue against the equity resolution. Supervisor Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run), whose sister was one of the first students to desegregate Prince William County Public Schools, said she had to respond to those comments.

“I think when they say that, they really believe it. They believe that, using his words to skew what he really wanted for this country,” she said. “And to say that we don’t need equity, that racism doesn’t exist—OK, so maybe my sister had a misunderstanding when she tried to integrate the schools back in the 1960s. Maybe they really did want her there, and my family was just confused about that. Maybe George Floyd—maybe it was a misunderstanding how he died. Come on now.”

“If you champion Dr. Martin Luther King and champion the March on Washington, then you should be championing the equity resolution, not talking about going against it,” Vice Chair Koran T. Saines said. “That tells me you really don’t know the true history and everything that that man was talking about, what he was preaching.”

Saines pointed out King was involved in planning the Poor People’s Campaign. At the time of his assassination, King was helping plan the campaign, a protest march in Washington, DC, calling for a $30 billion Economic Bill of Rights that would guarantee among other things a living wage to every person able to work and adequate income for people who cannot find jobs or are not able to work.

King’s views went further than supervisors have considered; for example, in an interview with Playboy Magazine in 1965, King argued for $50 billion in reparations over 10 years, which he pointed out at the time was less than a year of defense spending. In today’s dollars that would be about $87.9 billion.

The equity resolution first came to the board in December, when supervisors decided to hold off on a vote to give members more time to deliberate. At that time, some supervisors criticized it for focusing largely on race, arguing it should also deal in things like discrimination against women. At the Tuesday meeting, the resolution was expanded to eliminate barriers to progress and access due to race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, language, age, genetic information, family medical history and socioeconomic status.

The resolution was approved on a 6-1-1-1 vote Jan. 17, with Kershner opposed, Buffington abstaining, and Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) absent.

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