October 16, 2023 Blog
2023 Anti-Racism and Equity Progress
For the past three years, The Alliance has recommitted to continuously improving how we develop policy, build power, and occupy space using a race and social justice lens. Additionally, we are increasing our commitment to ensure the work we are doing every day is, first and foremost, inclusive of the communities most heavily impacted by gun violence. This includes our solidarity guide and yearly updates to hold our commitment in the public eye.
As we wrote last year, we know that in order for our anti-racist work to be meaningful, it must be ongoing. We believe it must also be transparent, not for the sake of recognition, but for the sake of openness and accountability. Below are concrete steps we have taken to deepen and expand this work in the past year:
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Team:
Our latest initiatives have made significant progress in advancing our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility. We’ve developed a comprehensive vision, strategy, and impact statement that serves as our guiding beacon toward a more inclusive future. We also conducted a thorough study in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders to identify areas where we can improve. This proactive approach allows us to refine and enhance our efforts, ensuring we continue making meaningful progress in promoting anti-racism and equity within our organization and beyond.
In 2022, we comprehensively transformed our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) initiatives. We reimagined our DEIA Steering Committee with a well-defined charter in collaboration with Momentum Professional Strategy Partners. We are finalizing new committee members and scheduling regular meetings. These steps will be completed by the end of the year. This is a significant step forward in our commitment to creating an inclusive, equitable, and accessible environment for all.
Black Chapter Team:
We officially launched our statewide Black Chapter Team, which brings together grasstops and grassroots leaders in the Black community to connect and collaborate on issues of gun violence throughout the State. Once established, the chapter convened for several months to outline the goals and priorities for the coalition.
These efforts included supporting and uplifting Black gun violence prevention messengers, increasing representation for Black communities in policy conversations, and advocating for and protecting Black women – specifically Black trans women – from domestic and police violence. With these goals in mind, the Chapter aims to continue to expand throughout 2023 and work to support the Alliance and each other as we move forward to prevent gun violence in our communities.
In 2022, we also had the opportunity to participate in two conferences on youth and gun violence that specifically focused on the experience of BIPOC youth. Our team presented at and participated in the School’s Out Washington Bridge Conference and Moving in Solidarity Youth Summit. At each conference, presentations centered on the experiences of BIPOC youth, and were co-led and organized by Alliance interns.
We held the first ENOUGH! Plays to End Gun Violence a nationwide theatre initiative that calls on teens to confront gun violence by creating new works of theatre that spark critical conversations and inspire meaningful action in communities nationwide. The plays address the many angles and lenses through which we see gun violence at work in America: in classrooms, in neighborhoods, and families.
Furthermore, we were excited to join forces with partners at the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention in King County to hold our first-ever Together We End Gun Violence Symposium. This brought together thought leaders, community members, and local and national government officials leading the way in gun violence prevention to discuss strategic collaboration and elevated community-led solutions to the gun violence epidemic in Washington and beyond.
GOTV and PAC work:
We continued to refine and reapply a racial justice lens in an internal review of our overall PAC process to eliminate aspects of the process that reinforce structures of white privilege. That led to several fundamental changes, including:
- Adjusting our candidate questionnaire to specifically ask about commitment to racial justice work, implementation of police accountability laws, and support for CVI work.
- Expanding our messaging and policy training to reach more candidates (more than 100 participants) and to focus a portion of the conversation on CVI strategies and police accountability opportunities for local jurisdictions.
- Extending our endorsement timeline to ensure all candidates have a fair and equitable chance for consideration.
- Shifting our funding priorities to support candidates who have historically faced resource barriers.
- Adjusting our candidate outreach with specific attention to finding and supporting individuals representing underrepresented and/or over-impacted communities.
- Expanding the number of staff included in the endorsement process to have a broader
diversity of perspectives.
- Emphasizing the importance of community violence intervention (CVI) work and including representatives of our CVI partner organizations to participate in our endorsement process.
We continued our commitment to prioritize BIPOC candidates directly impacted by gun violence. In addition, we also focused our engagement efforts on the following races:
- Kristine Reeves, 30th Legislative District
- Jamila Taylor, 30th Legislative District
- Brandy Donaghy, 44th Legislative District
- April Berg, 44th Legislative District
Additionally, during the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s race, the Alliance dedicated a significant portion of our resources to support the election of Leesa Manion. Manion became the first Woman and Person of Color elected to hold this seat. She also achieved the historic distinction of becoming the first Korean-American Woman in the United States to win this position. We are incredibly privileged to have supported this critical race and look forward to Leesa’s championing of gun responsibility across King County.
Policy Development and Advocacy:
In the past year, we`ve developed an equity tool to apply to our policy development process, which consists of questions designed to expose potential unintended policy consequences that may harm BIPOC communities. This tool has helped lead to the decision to remove a significant portion of criminal penalties in our proposed legislative agendas, instead relying on other more equitable incentives to comply with reasonable firearms laws.
We also continued our support of legislation to improve police accountability and stood against legislation that attempted to roll back progress made in the 2022 legislative session. Following the lead of the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, we engaged our volunteers in supporting these advocacy efforts.
Finally, we prioritized advocating for state funding for local CVI programming through the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention and, for the third consecutive year, increased the Office’s operating budget.
We hope that our community of supporters and partners will hold us accountable to the commitment we have made to act as allies in the fight to dismantle white supremacy. Please email us at [email protected] to provide feedback, criticism, and ideas on our racial justice work.
– Renée Hopkins is the CEO of the Alliance