PLAN’s racial justice organizing seeks to highlight and develop solutions to the most vexing and harsh manifestations of structural racism in Nevada that relate to education, health care and economic issues. Since early 2009, PLAN has worked with local, national and regional allies to compile a Racial Equity Report Card on the Governor, both houses of the Legislature, and all 63 individual legislators, based on their votes related to racial equity. Developing the report is a campaign in itself, involving hundreds of hours of volunteer and staff time to analyze votes, gather data, determine our methodology and write the narrative. The report, released in November 2011, highlighted the need for Nevada to develop more rigorous and just policies related to inequities in education, health care, and economic opportunity.
We want to reframe the debate in Nevada on racial inequities. The default position in Nevada for whatever calamity befalls a vulnerable family or individual is “it’s their own damn fault.” We want to build a more reflective and robust public sentiment in Nevada that supports more equitable public policies because people here believe that our fates are shared.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and Western States Center have long collaborated to advance our common missions of social justice and fighting for equitable social policies. Both organizations prioritize building power for change with groups most often pushed to the margins of public policy. The goal of Uniting Communities is to create leaders within the LGBTQ/immigrant community and provide cohort members the tools necessary to be advocates for our causes and one day run for public office. Beginning in October 2012, Uniting Communities Nevada will hold monthly convenings with cohort members to further develop leadership skills and build upon our success.
A sample of what Uniting Communities has accomplished thus far:
- Surveyed more than 50 leaders and members of LGBT, immigrant, people of color organizations and communities to gauge their interest in and awareness of cross-constituency organizing and movement building.
- Introduced our Uniting Communities leaders to Lambda Legal’s community educators at the National Council of La Raza convention in Las Vegas.
- PLAN brought a delegation of five UC participants to the Center’s annual summer training event Activists Mobilizing for Power to meet Oregon UC leaders and PLAN staff trained two workshops.
- UC leader and PLAN organizer Elvira Diaz provided leadership and technical assistance to start the first transgender support group in northern Nevada, which includes several immigrant and people of color leaders from the Uniting Communities cohort.
PLAN also holds dismantling racism workshops as part of our leadership and organizational development strategy. We need strong leaders and organizations that know how to analyze and commit to stopping oppressive practices and replace oppressive structures. Gandhi said be the change you want to be, so a good portion of our workshop deals with our complicity, however unintentional, in perpetrating this system, and how we can take steps to change our behavior. The primary purpose is to build stronger and more effective leaders whose loving hearts and keen minds will change their organizations, communities and our country for the better.
Racial Equity Report Card
Racial disparities are rooted in policy decisions and institutional actions dating back prior to statehood and are grounded in our national history. Between 2000 and 2010, the poverty rate nearly doubled in Nevada. During the current financial crisis, the hardest hit by foreclosures, bankruptcies and unemployment are communities of color. Disparities in health outcomes, graduation rates and other leading indicators of social well-being continue to plague the Silver State.
The Racial Equity Report Card examines legislation introduced in the Nevada Legislature that directly impacts Nevada’s communities of color, as well as scores legislators and the governor on their responses to the bills. The report card evaluates four major areas of legislation: education equity, economic equity, health equity and civil rights. The last major section, institutional racism, reviews legislation that would have increased or exacerbated existing racial disparities.
Since 2009, PLAN has released a report card after the completion of each legislative session in order to hold state decision-makers accountable for the votes they cast on bills related to racial equity. Through research, education, media coverage and lobbying, the Racial Equity Report Card exposes institutional racism and seeks improvement in future policy outcomes. PLAN calls on Nevada leaders to make racial equity a top state priority in order to avert continued crisis and to promote well-being for all people in the state.