Council Could Undertake Institutional Racism Review

Sep 12, 2016

Members of Black Agenda Cincinnati fill council chambers Sept. 12, 2016.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

A majority of Cincinnati council members are supporting a motion aimed at eliminating institutional racism in city government. It calls for the city manager to hire an organization to identify inequitable policies and practices and develop new policies in their place.

The motion stems from the work of Black Agenda Cincinnati, members of which spoke on the issue during a council committee Monday.

Bishop Bobby Hilton says, "Now is the time for City Council to adopt a public policy to eliminate institutional racism within city government and a mechanism to hold itself accountable. This way, every policy and practice is reviewed, measured and documented to determine whether those polices and practices disadvantage black people on the basis of race."

At least seven council members support the motion going before the full council, including Yvette Simpson.

"I want us to pass this quickly so that we can be the first city," she says. "My understanding is that St. Paul is lining up as is Seattle."

Vice Mayor David Mann says it's time to find issues and make changes.

"Slavery ended 150 years ago, how long before the remnants of it are gone?," he asks.

Council Member Chris Seelbach also supports the motion but offers some caution.

"If there aren't specific policy objectives that are presented, money that's allocated different ways, then I think there's going to be a lot of false hope. So, I just hope that this motion and these intentions actually lead to specific action that will allow us to go to a path forward where we actually take on institutional racism."

The motion does not lay out a funding plan. It now goes to the Mayor's office to be put on a full city council meeting agenda.