My Pursuit to Help Eliminate Racial Inequity in New Orleans
June 7, 2018
Understanding how deep racial inequity lies and taking action
I believe I live in the greatest city in the world. I’ve traveled the globe and always come back feeling proud to call New Orleans home. I’m passionate when I talk about her and embrace all the wonderful cultural assets she has to offer. I’ve chosen to advance my career here and grow a company where New Orleans is at our core. I’m deeply involved in our community, whether it’s working to eradicate homelessness or help raise money to support children with brain cancer through an incredible BBQ and music festival. My home is fantastic, but I’m not blind to her inherent problems. Residents and visitors alike can list her issues without hesitation, whether it’s crime, education, poverty or economic development. But one major issue New Orleans faces is racial inequity.
When I attended a two-day workshop on race and equity recently, I walked in the room with many assumptions about our city. New Orleans is on the bottom of the list when it comes to racial equity because we’re in the South and the South is always dead last in everything compared to other progressive cities in the nation, right? All we have to do is improve our education system, right? Racial inequity in our community can only be caused by pure racists, right?
No, nope, and definitely not.
As I spent two days educating myself on the topic of racial equity, I was blown away by the data and the history, not only in the New Orleans community but across our country, in progressive cities too. Across all systems – healthcare, economic development, child welfare, juvenile justice and, of course, education. This is an issue that stems back 500 years. And even the most liberal, racially diverse-loving white person can be part of the problem, and he or she doesn’t even realize it. My conversations with leaders in our community – black, white, Asian, Latino, male, female, younger, older – were so engaging and eye-opening. The training was an incredible experience filled with so many emotions.
My immediate reaction when the session concluded was to run out and tell everyone about everything I learned – my neighbors, my parents, my colleagues - and do something! Session leaders actually discouraged us to do this. They encouraged us to take time and really think about an Action Pledge: what will we do to address inequity problems in New Orleans?
I’m still working on my pledge because I want it to be thoughtful, actionable and attainable, but impactful. I'll keep you posted. In the interim, I encourage everyone to educate yourself of the racial inequities in your community, wherever you are. Because understanding the problem is the first step to fixing it.
Jennifer Bond is a Partner at Bond Moroch.