Oakland Councilmember Loren Taylor District Six

Oakland Race And Gender Disparities Study Released After Councilmember Taylor, Oakland African Chamber of Commerce Action

COUNCILMEMBER LOREN TAYLOR, THE OAKLAND AFRICAN AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND WIDE RANGE OF COMMUNITY LEADERS SUCCESSFULLY ADVOCATE FOR RELEASE OF OAKLAND’S RACE AND GENDER DISPARITY STUDY

On Tuesday, November 24, 2020, Councilmember Loren Taylor, the Oakland African Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders, held a press conference to demand that the City publicly release the 2017 Race and Gender Disparities Study. Within less than an hour of the conclusion of the press conference, in response to the mounting community pressure, City Administrator Ed Reiskin in partnership with City Attorney Barbara Parker, and Mayor Libby Schaaf, posted the study on the City’s website and committed to bringing the study forward for full Council acceptance in the next feasible council meeting (which will be December 15th).

“The public outcry for releasing the Race and Gender Disparities Study was heard loud and clear,” stated Councilmember Taylor, declaring that the delay in publicly releasing the study was unacceptable and the City “must act quickly to release the completed study and not allow bureaucratic delay and tone-deaf excuses to stand in the way of racial justice.” He also stated that, “Now more than ever in recent history the voice of so many diverse communities are calling in unison for an end to the institutional racism that has perpetuated the disparities facing Black individuals and businesses,” Adding that the City of Oakland is not immune from the plague of institutional racism as evidenced in Oakland’s 2018 Equity Indicators Report which found that, “White contractors (in Oakland) receiving an average of $1,059,209 per contract which was 11.87 times the average of African American contractors which was $89,191 per contract.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant challenges to Oakland residents and its business community, forcing many to permanently close. Unsurprisingly, these adverse impacts are disproportionately impacting Black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) businesses and workers relative to their White counterparts. This further exacerbates pre-existing disparities.

In addition to calling for the study’s release, community leaders called for the immediate implementation of policies and practices to remedy the identified disparities. The group stated that Oakland can and should address the significant disparities by implementing race/gender-neutral and race/gender-conscious remedies for reducing the disparities. Correspondingly, there was a call to immediately implement race/gender neutral strategies that can be implemented immediately, through Councilmember Taylor’s proposed, Local Business Empowerment Through Contracting (LBETC) legislation which we will be considered at the December 15th City Council meeting. In parallel, the foundation is being laid for the implementation of race/gender-conscious remedies to be implemented within the guidelines of Proposition 209.

Councilmember Taylor acknowledged the hard work that contributed to the release of the report, “I am grateful for their tireless work on behalf of the Oakland’s Small and Minority businesses, including the advocacy for the release of this study. Many of the contractors I have spoken to in the past two months are intimately aware of the pitfalls of the current contracting and procurement process and recognize that while we cannot fix all of the problems caused by systemic inequities overnight, we must continue to aggressively move forward toward real equity, especially when it comes to City contracting and procurement spend.”

At the press conference, the group stressed that the release of Race & Gender Disparities Report was necessary for the public to better understand the current state of contracting in Oakland, the barriers faced by Black and other minority contractors, and the most impactful measures to reduce those barriers.

In parallel with discussions regarding the disclosure of the Disparity Study over the past several months Councilmember Taylor has worked closely with City staff, local businesses, Chambers of Commerce, and labor leaders regarding changes that could be made to enhance the City’s Local and Small Business Enterprise Program. Taylor urged other members of the City Council to support the proposed amendments to the L/SLBE program that he says will have a more immediate impact on race and gender-based contracting disparities that exist in Oakland.

Oakland 2017 Race and Gende… by Zennie Abraham

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