This Juneteenth, carve out some time to revisit the Equity section of our Civic Trust Guide to build up your understanding of equity. This section also provides tips and best practices for operationalizing sustainable and resilient growth for communities.

Start reading the section’s introduction below or download the full section here.

Why do we care about equity?

From the abolition of slavery to the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments giving people of color and women the right to vote, to the Fair Housing Act, we have seen several momentous milestones in American history. These legislative milestones marked the end of discrimination based on race and other classes. The reality, however, is that even though we no longer have “explicit” discriminatory laws we still have systems, policies, and attitudes that discriminate against the historically disadvantaged groups in our cities and communities.(1)

The pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color, revealing the gruesome outcome of deeply rooted discrimination and racism in American society. To advance equity, cities and communities should first recognize the existence of inequities. City and community leaders can work together to decide how they move forward or live with the disbelief that inequities don’t exist.

Equity is the key to sustainable and resilient growth in cities and communities as it creates a level-playing field for all. Prioritizing equity can help city and community leaders lay the foundations of a harmonious society where people from all walks of life can co-exist peacefully.

Efforts and resources that fight racism and improve equity should take center stage as cities and communities adopt smart city applications and use data to inform decisions that impact the lives of residents and visitors. Failure to do so will only sustain and perpetuate the vicious cycle of institutional and structural inequities that disproportionately victimize people that have historically faced discrimination in society.

For better or worse, much of the equity dialogue in America has been focused on racial equity, as race has been the most reliable predictor of quality of life.(2) In this section, we capture equity as it relates to race, socio-economic status, gender expression, disability, age, religion, national origin, and minority groups. Equity is the fair and respectful treatment of all individuals so that their quality of life is not determined by who they were born as, who they are or who they identify as.

The Equity section of the Civic Trust Guide provides guidance to cities and communities on how they can understand and embed equity in their operations. Use the button below to review the full Equity section where we discuss understanding and operationalizing Equity, and include an “Equity Resource Repository for Cities and Connected Communities.” Then check out the other sections of the Civic Trust Guide as well!

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(1) Clark, B. E. (2018, May). Planning with An Equity Lens: Making Cities More Fair Share. National Association of Realtors.

(2) Gee, G. C., Walsemann, K. M., & Brondolo, E. (2012). A Life Course Perspective on How Racism May Be Related to Health Inequities. Am J Public Health, 102(5), 967–974.