Here are 3 ways Durham County plans to promote racial equity

Durham County leaders agreed Monday to take three actions to advance racial equity in Durham.

One will tackle accusations of racism from inside.

County Chair Brenda Howerton introduced plans for racial equity coaching for the five-member Board of County Commissioners and county supervisor.

A brand new fee to sort out systemic racism and the designation of Juneteenth as a county vacation had been two extra initiatives the board agreed on on the assembly.

Racial equity coaching

Howerton known as the current second a possibility for commissioners to lean into their “collective discomfort” and “make our intention, commitment, role and responsibility in addressing racism clear.”

She introduced a plan for the board and supervisor to register for a Feb. 19 seminar on the UNC School of Government. County Attorney Lowell Siler is also arranging coaching for commissioners with the Racial Equity Institute in Greensboro.

Howerton inspired her fellow board members to take part as a response to an out of doors analysis final summer time that discovered the county was in “a state of periodic dysfunction.”

“We cannot change history or past actions, so the critical decision points today are perhaps more focused on the questions about where do we go from here,” mentioned Howerton, who turned chair of what could also be North Carolina’s first all-women county commissioners board in December.

The county employed authorized marketing consultant James Coleman Jr. final spring after County Manager Wendell Davis accused Commissioner Heidi Carter of harboring an “inherent bias” towards him and “people of color in general” in a letter final February. Carter had criticized Davis for the way lengthy he had taken to follow-up on faculty development plans.

Coleman discovered no racist intent in Carter’s actions however described “a lack of collegiality” between Davis and a few commissioners and mentioned the incidents Davis had complained about may “reasonably have been perceived as racially biased.” Carter later apologized.

Coleman additionally mentioned some county employees perceived Commissioner Wendy Jacobs, who was chair on the time, as “micromanaging.”

A majority of the senior employees rejected racial bias as a supply of her habits, Coleman mentioned, however most agreed that “the employees who perceived it may reasonably perceive her conduct as biased, whether conscious or implicit.”

After Howerton’s announcement, Commissioner Nimasheena Burns mentioned Coleman’s findings wanted treatment.

“The victims of perceived racism and racism are wounded the same way and hurt the same way,” she mentioned.

Carter welcomed the prompt coaching, saying, “I’m committed to working together in a productive, collaborative, trusting way.”

Racial Equity Commission

In a separate matter, Elaine O’Neal, a retired decide who lately introduced she is running for mayor of Durham, introduced draft working guidelines for a proposed Racial Equity Commission to the board for evaluation.

She famous Monday was the primary day of Black History Month and mentioned the group would brainstorm ways to change institutional inequities.

“We’ve got to recreate some new ways of thinking about systemic racism and how it affects those who are closest to the pain,” O’Neal mentioned.

The new fee will pursue the suggestions in (*3*).

It will encompass 15 folks, appointed by the Durham City Council and Durham County commissioners.

Membership will embrace residents throughout totally different ages, races, non secular background, financial standing and sexual orientation. One seat will go to a public highschool pupil. Members can have three-year phrases and submit an annual report to metropolis and county leaders.

“It’s an intellectual, you know, puzzle, but we know we’ll get there,” mentioned Kaaren Haldeman, a co-chair of town’s racial equity process pressure.

Juneteenth vacation

Durham County will make June 19 a paid vacation for its roughly 1,900 county authorities workers.

The metropolis of Durham, in addition to Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Orange County and Wake County, made Juneteenth a vacation final summer time.

On June 22, Howerton had beneficial the county acknowledge Juneteenth, which commemorates the top of slavery.

Since then, she has pushed for a statewide vacation designation together with State Sen. Natalie Murdock, she mentioned.

“So rather than to continue to wait, with this being Black History Month, it’s a perfect time to go ahead and put this through,” she mentioned.

Charlie Innis covers Durham authorities for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun by way of the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship. He has been a New York-based freelance author, overlaying housing and know-how for Kings County Politics, with further reporting for the Brooklyn Eagle, The Billfold, Brooklyn Reporter and Greenpoint Gazette.

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