Historic NYC Racial Justice Commission Releases First Report

For Immediate Release: October 7, 2021 

Contact: Steph Halpin, (646-784-4158) [email protected] 

Historic NYC Racial Justice Commission Releases First Report 

NYC for Racial Justice: An Interim Report from the Racial Justice Commission Staff reflects patterns of racial inequity voiced by New Yorkers and the Commission’s approach to dismantling structural racism through NYC Charter revisions.

New York — Today, the NYC Racial Justice Commission, the first of its kind in the nation, released its first staff report, NYC for Racial Justice, outlining persistent patterns of inequity experienced by New Yorkers. Providing insight into what the Commission heard in its first phase of engagement, the report shows the ways in which structural racism operates in New York City and illustrates its harmful impact on New Yorkers of Color, as well as shares next steps the Commission is taking to propose NYC Charter revisions aimed at advancing racial equity.

Commission staff identified six patterns of inequity from public input that present systemic barriers to power, access, and opportunity for New Yorkers, particularly those who are Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, or other Persons of Color. The report synthesizes input the Commission has received from the first round of public input, which consisted of a major citywide effort including in-person sessions in every borough, virtual sessions, an online survey, panel series, and conversations with leaders in racial justice work and a variety of disciplines.

The report will serve as the foundation for the second public engagement period to give New Yorkers the opportunity to provide additional feedback and help inform the Commission as it identifies the broadest, boldest, long-term structural changes that impact the underlying causes of racial inequity.

“Today, with the release of the NYC for Racial Justice from the Racial Justice Commission Staff, New York City is taking a giant step forward in naming and dismantling structural racism. I am enormously grateful to the many residents who shared their personal stories, challenges, and ideas for creating a more equitable New York City. This staff report is based on thousands of minutes of testimony from a diverse array of New Yorkers from every borough. It is also a formal public acknowledgment that many of the laws, policies, and practices that govern our city are rooted in racism that has harmed too many for too long. I want to thank the Commission staff for their hard work and dedication,” explained Jennifer Jones Austin, Chair of the NYC Racial Justice Commission.

“This report is a synthesis of a citywide public input process, which is the foundation of our work as Commissioners. Communities know what they need, and our job is to listen and translate their concerns into recommendations for structural change that are actionable and increase accountability. I am deeply honored by the work that has been done and look forward to continuing it,” added Henry A. Garrido, Vice-Chair of the NYC Racial Justice Commission.

“It is an honor to serve the people of New York and to provide them with meaningful opportunities to shape the work of dismantling the structures that perpetuate racial inequities,” stated Anusha Venkataraman, Executive Director of the NYC Racial Justice Commission. “The Racial Justice Commission staff have spent countless hours listening to testimony and culling through public input to discern the systemic barriers – the six patterns of inequities – that face BIPOC New Yorkers. I am so grateful to the people of New York for their faith in the Commission and to the Commissioners for their support and commitment to this work.”

In addition to online public input, there will be additional public input sessions before the Commission finalizes ballot proposals in December 2021.  New York City voters will decide if the ballot proposals to advance racial equity become law during the November 2022 general election. 

To view the full report and opportunities to engage, visit nyc.gov/racialjustice.

“It’s time we break the deeply rooted racist systems that stem from the NYC Charter, and we’re counting on everyone who calls this City home to help the Commission ensure racial justice is at the core of our laws. This report is our commitment to making bold change that achieves racial equity for all New Yorkers,” said J. Philip Thompson, RJC Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. 

“The need for bold change to the foundation of the NYC Charter was loud and clear during the public input process. Thank you to each New Yorker who fearlessly advocated for racial justice – especially the young people! I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners to deliver ballot proposals that advance racial equity for New Yorkers,” said Ana M. Bermúdez, RJC Commissioner and NYC Department of Probation Commissioner.

“We look forward to reading the New York City Racial Justice Commission’s Interim Report summarizing input from communities around the city regarding persistent inequities New Yorkers of color experience,” said Peggy Shepard, Co-Founder & Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, which has been fighting environmental racism in the city since 1988. “Environmental justice is racial justice, and the Commission’s work towards developing a comprehensive set of recommendations to address these inequities will move us closer to achieving that justice.”

“The NAACP has been fighting against systemic racism for generations and for the sake of our future generations, we need to root out racism by dismantling the structures that support it. The Racial Justice Commission has a unique opportunity to break the cycle of systemic racism. I look forward to the recommendations the Commission proposes and I encourage all New Yorkers to take hold of the opportunity to engage in this civic process, which we have fought long and hard to access,” said Dr. N. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference.

“Since 2018, the light on racial injustice in America has never shined brighter. This report takes it a step further by showing the systems in place holding people of color back,” said Michael Tucker, Co-Founder Lay the Guns Down Foundation.

“Racism is not a ill-intended word, or a ill-intended person or ill-intended group of people. Racism is a system of oppression. A system becomes oppressive when there is a lack of diverse participation of ideas and thoughts. The Racial Justice Commission is our opportunity, as New Yorkers, to begin to address the wrongs of the founding fathers of New York City, “said Oster Bryan, President of The St. Albans Civic Improvement Association.

“We are ecstatic about the work the NYC Racial Justice Commission is carrying out to work with communities to help dismantle structural racism in a meaningful way. Racism has been embedded in institutions, society and cultural norms. As a company that works to provide equitable access to transportation, we believe it’s paramount to identify and eliminate barriers to access and opportunity in order to reshape the outcome for minority communities in NYC,” said Jamila Fynes, SPIN (Ford Mobility).