Minneapolis holds a reputation for being one of the most progressive cities in the Midwest with implementation of new policies and programs to improve the lives of its residents. Unfortunately, these policies have long overlooked and ignored the thriving legacy of racial inequity in the city. This should come as no surprise as a 2017 news report found that Minnesota was ranked the second worst state in the country for racial equality.
So what exactly is racial inequity and what is Minneapolis doing about it? How does it create social ad- vantages and disparities in policies and programs we interact with everyday? Who is harmed by it?
Established in 2017, the Minneapolis Division of Race and Equity works to grow the capacity of city staff to integrate racial equity into everyday decision-making, business planning, inclusion activities, and policymaking. At the Civic Buzz on April 2 we will learn from the division’s director, Joy Marsh Stephens, about the history of racism and racial inequity in Minneapolis, the creation of the division, and the initiatives that are currently being pursued to undo this legacy.
Stephens comes to Minneapolis with over 20 years of experience leading large-scale systems change initiatives in multiple sectors including financial services, healthcare, education and government. She partners closely with cities, counties, and state agencies across the nation that are also committed to advancing racial equity. Most recently, she led domestic and international systems integration and acquisition projects at the enterprise level for UnitedHealth Group. She enjoys an active public life as well, having volunteered in leadership roles for numerous nonprofit boards, schools, and other community groups with a focus on driving racial equitable policy at the municipal and state level for over 15 years.
Text by Alice Moormann