In response to local Black Lives Matter protests, city council’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force will begin their work to combat racial inequality in San Luis Obispo.
City Council approved the task force July 7 and has three main goals: award grant money to marginalized communities, collaborate with marginalized groups to provide recommendations to the city and make recommendations to the Human Relations Commission to implement.
The task force has $120,000 in grants that they will award to local marginalized communities. They are aiming to distribute the money by Nov. 7, the last city council meeting of the year.
Unlike advisory bodies that are implemented for an indefinite amount of time, task forces have an expiration date. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force will conclude Jan. 7 unless extended by city council, according to the task force charter.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Coordinator Dale Magee said that task forces have a set end date because they are created to achieve explicit goals within a frame of time.
Beyond their three main goals, the task force is also pursuing their vision statement through means of outreach. This includes learning sessions like the one they conducted at their Sept. 17 meeting with San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell and retired San Luis Obispo Police Chief James Gardiner.
Although the city has been exploring tactics to encourage diversity and inclusion in local government, the task force was a response to the Black Lives Matter protests that began due to the death of George Floyd.
Magee has been working with the city for ten years as a consultant working on strategy projects. She said that the task force is taking what the city has always believed in and putting it into action.
“It’s that idea of moving, what everyone knows is right and what should be the work, into a very explicit, a very visible tasked activity that makes the city need to focus its resource on it,” Magee said.
Task force members are volunteers and do not get paid for their contribution to the task force. A chairperson has not been appointed by the task force, but at a Sept. 17 meeting, they discussed alternatives to a chairperson. The conversation will continue at their next meeting on Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.