The city of Rochester and the County of Monroe have completed their initial analysis of the recommendations made by the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) report, which was presented to the community six weeks ago.
“The completion of this initial analysis allows us to assign responsibility for each of the recommendations to ensure that they are implemented for the benefit of our entire community,” said Cephas Archie, the lead for RASE Report implementation and chief equity officer for the city of Rochester. “We can now move forward and build the teams of community stakeholders necessary for success and create the benchmarks needed to measure our progress.”
Archie serves as the city’s lead representative, with Candice Lucas leading the county’s efforts, on a cross-governmental team to provide staff support and resources for the commission. RASE is comprised of 21 community members and is co-chaired by former Mayor William Johnson Jr.; Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College; and Arline Santiago, senior vice president and general counsel for ESL Federal Credit Union.
Completion of the first “principle review” phase of the Commission’s work will guide the city and county’s development of an implementation plan for the report’s recommendations. The identification of which respective government would own specific recommendations and which ones would be jointly shared was conducted by leadership teams from both the city and the county.
The final implementation plan will include the identification of key stakeholders and benchmarks in support of the report’s six overarching themes. The review process encompassed an assessment of the recommendations made by the Commission’s nine working groups. The review also identified internal and external partners, required resources, tentative timelines for completion and principle personnel responsible for facilitating implementation efforts, monitoring progress and providing updates.
The six themes identified in the report include:
• Inequitable and inadequate access to essential resources and systems critical to closing equity gaps.
• Structures and protocols inequitably impact and disadvantage Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC).
• Structures and personnel lack cultural/linguistic competencies critical for effective engagement.
• Systems create and perpetuate disadvantages.
• City/county structures lack reliable transparency and accountability operations, negatively impacting trust among BIPOC.
• Current city/county/state systems possess insufficient economic investment in structures and resources critical to attaining equity.
The commission developed five systemic solutions and nearly 40 specific recommendations. Solutions include creating and investing in sustainable economic opportunities in Black and
Latinx communities to promote and maintain self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship and career advancement; implementing and incentivizing practices and programs that increase the racial/ethnic diversity and cultural competence of employees, vendors and contractors; ending practices that disproportionately drain resources from Black and Latinx communities; Decentralizing services and embedding them in trusted agencies throughout the community; and embedding accountability measures in all policies to ensure equity and fairness across all services, programs and delivery models.
In their letter to the mayor and county executive that accompanied the 271-page report, Johnson, Santiago and Shafiq said that while they found few laws in the city and county that created and sustained racist policies, “we have found practices and conditions where diversity of race, ethnicity and gender are nearly non-existent; where people of color are unable to fully participate and are implicitly or explicitly excluded from opportunities that could enhance their economic, social and mental health; and where people of color are denied the opportunity to participate in the rule-making and decision-making that shapes our lives, from birth to death.”
Over the next several weeks, the city and county will compile their recommendation responses and provide a community update on implementation efforts.