Open Communities Evanston Justice Team pens an open letter to Mayor Tisdahl, members of the City Council, and candidates for election for mayor and alderman in 2017
We are very encouraged that the City of Evanston is in the process of hiring an Equity and Empowerment Coordinator. As people who are invested in seeing our community become a place where decisions at all levels are consistently made using an equity lens, we think this is a strong step in the right direction. We applaud the City for doing this.
We believe there is a need for this person to receive regular input and direction from stakeholders in the community who have been in the forefront on organizing on equity issues, including representatives of what are referred to in the job description as “underrepresented groups.” These include people of color, Latinos, immigrants, the people with disabilities, people who are homeless, seniors and the LGBTQ community.
While Evanston has touted its diversity, there are historical and current processes of segregation and discrimination that have undermined not only opportunities but even the long term viability of communities of color in the City. The most stark way to view this is that there has been a large exodus of African Americans. Between the years 2000 and 2010, the African American proportion of Evanston’s population fell from 22.5% to 18.1% (US Census), a proportional change of -19.34%. In 2014, it had dropped to 17.2%. Any equity process that addresses the needs of this community must address systemic issues that are driving low income people of color out of the City, such as inflation in housing costs and lack of living wage jobs.
In order to address disparities and lack of representation, we propose an Evanston Citizens Equity Advisory Board to help the Equity and Empowerment Coordinator develop and implement a viable plan.
The advisory board would include representatives of key community organizations which work for elimination of racial and place-based disparities and groups that significantly represent and reflect the “underrepresented” sectors of the community, such as OPAL, Open Communities Evanston Justice Team, Evanston YWCA, Latino Resources, Interfaith and Ecumenical Clergy Associations, and Citizens Network of Protection.
The advisory board would serve as a liaison to connect the Coordinator with underrepresented groups in the community and with advocates who can help develop plans that maximize community participation.
The board would provide regular feedback to the Coordinator about community issues and the development and implementation of the City’s Equity and Empowerment Plan.
Will you support the creation of the Evanston Citizens Equity Advisory Board?
Please send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open Communities Evanston Justice Team
Betty Ester, Citizen’s Network of Protection
Cicely Fleming, OPAL and candidate for Alderman, 9th Ward
Priscilla Giles, Citizens Network of Protection
Bennett Johnson, Evanston Minority Business Consortium, Inc.
Rev. Betty Landis, Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
Dan Lewis, Northwestern University
Sue Loellbach, Connections for the Homeless
Kathy Miller, Fundraising in the Public Interest
Rev. Michael Nabors, Pastor of Second Baptist Church and President of Evanston Northshore NAACP
Nina Raskin, Northshore Village and Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
Rev. Daniel Ruen, Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church
Mark Schoenfield, Beth Emet, the Free Synagogue
Robin Rue Simmons, Sunshine Enterprises and candidate for Alderman, 5th Ward
Gerry Sizemore, Vice President, Evanston Northshore NAACP
Ted Smukler, Open Communities
Rev. Joseph P. Tito, St. Nicholas Catholic Community
Rabbi Rachel Weiss, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
Lesley Williams, Jewish Voice for Peace
Lonnie Wilson, Evanston Collective
Elliot Zashin, The Peoples Lobby
(Affiliations are given to identify the individual signers, but do not imply that the organizations have endorsed this statement).