The NYC Racial Justice Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved and filed with the office of the City Clerk its final report outlining three ballot proposals intended to advance racial equity and dismantle structural racism in the City’s Charter.
The proposals, which will go before voters in the Nov. 2022 general election, including adding a preamble to the charter that establishes racial equity as a guiding principle for city government, creating several new accountability bodies and mechanisms to act as a watchdog on city agencies, and establishing a new and more holistic indicator the city can use to measure the “true” cost-of-living.
This final report also outlines specific legal changes to the New York City Charter that would take effect if the ballot measures are approved by voters and it includes a Roadmap for Racial Justice, which offers recommendations to local, state, and federal governments the Commission believes could further advance racial equity.
“Today, my fellow Commissioners and I humbly and proudly put forth a set of charter revision ballot proposals that are aspirational and actionable, and which would hold City government accountable for catalyzing sustainable change to dismantle structural racism and advance racial equity here in New York City”, said Jennifer Jones Austin, Chair of the NYC Racial Justice Commission. “Let us all do our part in learning about and sharing with our neighbors these proposals that we believe will make our city a greater place to live for us all.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the formation of the Racial Justice Commission in March 2021 following his State of the City Address that same year where he announced his intent to name a Charter Revision Commission focused on racial justice and reconciliation, with a two-year mandate to identify and root out structural racism.
At the formation, de Blasio appointed 11 Commissioners including its Executive Director Anusha Venkataraman, Chair Jennifer Jones Austin, and Vice-Chair Henry Garrido.
“The Racial Justice Commission has laid out a clear path to begin dismantling systemic racism in the City Charter that could strengthen racial equity work happening in New York City, inspire other cities to follow suit, and build a fairer, more equitable city for generations to come,” said de Blasio. “I’m grateful to Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, Chair Jennifer Jones Austin and all the Commissioners for their tireless commitment to strengthening our city as well as all the New Yorkers who participated in shaping these ballot proposals.”
Venkataraman said called the commission and its work a truly historic process, including nearly six months of citywide public engagement, where New Yorkers of all races and backgrounds showed up to fight for a more equitable city.
“This final report marks the culmination of the Commission’s drive to shape broad, bold proposals that will set a path forward for delivering change,” said Venkataraman. “The three proposals approved today by the Commission, if passed by New Yorkers, would set a foundation for the years of work ahead of us in the quest for racial justice. I am enormously grateful to the people of New York for their faith in the Commission, to the rest of the staff for their tireless work, and to the Commissioners for their passion and vision.”
Brooklyn Paper Reporter Ben Brachfeld contributed to this story.