Kansas City Race & Equity Initiative

A note from Mayor Sly James: Kansas City is stronger and more vibrant than ever. Yet, while we’ve accomplished so much, we’re still recognized as one of the most segregated cities in the country. As a community, we must address the history and systems which have resulted in perpetual inequities among races and cultures in our community.

These racial inequities are a result of systems and institutions that have enabled some to get ahead and others to be left behind. These inequities will continue to persist unless we as a community are willing to talk about how race impacts every aspect of an individual’s life.

That’s why the Mayor’s Office, City Manager’s Office and the Community Alliance for Racial Equity (CARE) are working to implement the Government Alliance on Race and Equity’s guidelines for advancing change in racial equity: 1 ) Normalize Conversations, 2) Organize, 3) Operationalize.

In the months I have left in office, it’s my goal to begin to normalize conversations about racial equity through a series of community conversations with local experts and educators to help our community develop a common framework and language.

We hosted our first event to a packed theater at the Kauffman Foundation in late August, appropriately called “Starting the Conversation.” Speakers presented a definition of racism and data on racial disparities in life expectancies in our city.

In addition to supporting these larger public events, CARE is taking an active role in organizing in the community, providing education and resources for individuals and organizations to begin addressing the biases that exist in their own networks.

At City Hall, we’re forming the Race and Equity Action Team (REAT) that will be tasked with formulating and implementing a Race and Equity Action Plan for city government that will begin the process of operationalizing.

We’re working toward positive, measurable change in our community – starting with a conversation that is part of a broad initiative designed to continue well past my time in office. This process won’t be easy – far from it – but it’s essential to moving our city forward. We’ll be continuing the conversation at our next event, Socialization & Bias, taking place Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. at the Mohart Center. I hope you’ll join us.

Find out more about how to get involved at kcmayor.org/raceandequity.