PRAIRIE VIILLAGE, Kan. – Johnson County City Guides are working to address racial justice through a new pilot program.
Roeland Park and Prairie Village councilors have signed up for the Racial Justice in Cities pilot program.
Kathryn Evans is the special projects manager for United Community Services, the organization leading the Racial Equity in Cities pilot program.
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“Especially for Johnson County, given the county’s segregation history that gave rise to Johnson County’s suburbs. It is really important that we address this history and make conscious political choices that prevent us from repeating the past and empower us to create a fairer future for all Johnson County residents, ”said Evans.
The pilot will not create new policies for Johnson County cities, but will advise community leaders on how to create greater awareness, analysis, and action related to racial justice.
The Johnson County jurisdictions receive strategic planning services and technical support from United Community Services and other partner agencies.
Evans said the program will focus on helping community leaders reassess policies and remove potential barriers for people of color.
“Our goal here is not necessarily to dictate a path for organizations, but to equip them with the information they need and the skills to apply knowledge to their organizations,” she said.
Evans said examples of a healthy culture of racial justice can include:
- A promotion process for city workers that anticipates and mitigates prejudice against people of color who may wish to hold leadership positions.
- A process of studying internal processes and procedures to eliminate bias and unequal treatment.
- Leadership that sets specific goals and standards of racial justice internally and in the community.
- Establish education plans to increase knowledge about racial justice in the community.
Evans said much of the program is funded by United Community Service and partner agencies, but jurisdictions must make a financial commitment of $ 6,000 to $ 10,000, depending on the size of the city.
Evans also said community leaders in Lenexa, Mission, and the Johnson County government have expressed an interest in joining the program.
Each city will set its own goals for combating racial justice. Evans said following protests across the county last summer, many jurisdictions may decide to assess how city police interact with the public.
“Many organizations are looking at ways they can build more trust between color communities and law enforcement,” Evans said. “We assume this could be a place where these jurisdictions will apply their knowledge.”
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Evans said cities could begin to evaluate their policies and address racial justice by:
- Adjusting hiring practices and procedures for city workers to remove prejudice.
- Assess how public policies are currently enforced.
- Establish an educational program on racial justice.
“Ultimately, we want an improved culture of racial justice in the jurisdictions in which we work,” said Evans.
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