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New collective continues the fight to dismantle systemic racism

Friday, October 30, 2020 by Miriam E Jewell

Mayor Steve Adler and a coalition of community activists launched a new nonprofit organization earlier this month, creating an entity to succeed the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities and bring many of its 278 recommendations to fruition.

Kazique Prince, who was a project manager for the task force, will serve as interim executive director of the new nonprofit, named the Central Texas Collective for Racial Equity, which hopes to raise $250,000 by the end of the year. In an online launch ceremony, Prince, Adler and other community activists said the nonprofit will also seek to engage the community in its work against institutional racism.

“I’m not in this fight alone,” Prince said at the event. “Hundreds and thousands of you have come together continuing the heart and hard work needed to dig deep and shoulder the burden to call out injustice, rally the people together and fight every day in the streets, at your job, with your friends and your family.”

The collective will work to build out recommendations from the task force, which sought to address systemic racism in Austin. Its initiatives will include financial empowerment, education, racial justice, affordable housing opportunities, adopting a “Health in All Policies” approach, and implementing anti-displacement measures.

“The collective looks to connect the seemingly disparate issues among the various institutions,” community activist Ashton Cumberbatch said, adding that this is “a movement, not a moment.”

The creation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities was initially sparked by the death of David Joseph in 2016. Joseph, a 17-year-old African American, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by an Austin police officer.

“That event became a signal to all of us that this just could not continue in our city,” Adler said. “We needed to be searching for and implementing constructive action and solutions.”

The task force focused on five pillars: education, real estate and housing, health, finance, banking and industry, and civil and criminal justice.

“We need to look at all aspects of our lives because institutional racism and those systemic inequities exist everywhere,” Adler said.

Additionally, the task force suggested additional police reform measures that focus on the sanctity of life, specifically by using de-escalation tactics in response to mental health calls.

“There is hope,” Prince said. “There is room we make to end the disgusting injustice each of us weathers every day, from the lack of job opportunities, a poor educational system, an unjust legal system, to the $5 trillion racial wealth gap, and huge health disparities in quality of life for Black and brown people across Central Texas. This is not justice, but it is our reality, ugly and cruel as it is.”

This story was written by a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. The Austin Monitor is working in partnership with the UT School of Journalism to teach and publish stories produced by students in the City and County Government Reporting course.

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