MADISON, WI – Representative Shelia Stubbs introduces LRB-0103/2, seeks to create an Office for Equity and Inclusion. Representative Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) released the following statement:
“Today, in honor of the first day of Black History Month, I am bringing forth legislation to address the profound racial inequality in our state. I would like to first thank former Senator Lena Taylor, who was my previous partner on this legislation, and congratulate her on her appointment to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
It is time to confront the appalling truth: Wisconsin has the most extreme racial disparities in the country. Our residents of color, especially African American people, are subjected to inequity in every sector of life. In employment, education, housing, health care, and economic opportunities, people of color in our state have less access and worse outcomes than their white counterparts.
From cradle to grave, interpersonal and structural racism shape the lived experiences of Wisconsinites of color. The profound effects of bias and systemic discrimination can be found in every walk of life from pregnancy through schooling, the workforce, and the criminal justice system. According to the American Community Survey in 2017, Black babies born in Wisconsin are three times more likely to die than white babies. The same survey shows that Black children in our state are living in poverty at a rate 3.5 times higher than white children.
Wisconsin also has the worst unemployment disparity in the nation, with Black Wisconsinites almost three times more likely to be unemployed than white Wisconsinites. Black residents also account for 9% of Wisconsin adults seeking work but without a job, compared to 3.3% of white residents. When we fail to address these disparities, we fail our Black community members and our Black families.
This bill seeks to rectify the profound injustices Wisconsinites of color face by creating a Council for Equity and Inclusion as well as an Office for Equity and Inclusion, both of which will be attached to the Department of Administration. These bodies must establish and annually update a statewide plan for equity and inclusion, as well as coordinate with designated individuals to implement and enforce this plan. The bodies will also submit annual reports to the governor and the legislature of their activities and updates.
I have seen firsthand the power that active, solution-based initiatives have for amending racial and economic disparities in our state. Through my work with the Tamara D. Grigsby Office of Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board on the county level, I helped investigate hiring policies that encouraged more diverse candidates to apply for county jobs. As a result of the policies developed by that Advisory Board, more family-sustaining job opportunities are opening to applicants who previously had limited access based on education and economic background. These initiatives work, and they give us an opportunity to correct centuries’ worth of unequal access and treatment.
In order to build safe and strong communities, we need to correct the inequities within. By creating the Office for Equity and Inclusion, we will provide a statewide resource to address the many serious racial disparities within our state of Wisconsin. By working for a more just and equitable future, we can ensure all of our residents grow up and grow old in a state that tends to their diverse needs.
In the words of former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, ‘Our glorious diversity – our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds – that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are.’”