Today, Arlington County launched a new effort to address racial equity and disparities in our community. Called Dialogues on Race and Equity (DRE), the effort is part of the County’s broader commitment to racial equity and follows the County Board’s 2019 equity resolution.
DRE will include a series of virtual community conversations with individuals, nonprofit organizations, civic associations, faith organizations, and businesses to learn about and address the ways in which Arlington can be a more equitable place for all residents and businesses.
In addition, Arlingtonians across the County are invited and encouraged to share their perspectives in a Countywide assessment, as Arlington recognizes that everyone has different experiences, backgrounds, insights, opinions, and beliefs about race and equity. Our communitywide assessment is a short online questionnaire to help our community understand potential areas of opportunities for advancing race and equity and the related systemic issues in our community.
“This is a necessary and overdue opportunity for our entire community to have direct dialogue with each other on racial equity issues and to have all voices heard by community leaders, businesses and policymakers,” said Libby Garvey, Chair of the Arlington County Board. “We have reached an inflection point in our country and our community’s history on race and on the injustices that have been with us from the very beginning. Many effects of that history are baked into our systems and laws. It will take the entire community working together to make sure we understand these effects and can make Arlington a more just and equitable society for people of all backgrounds. This initiative, while it’s just one step, is an important one for our community.”
Over the next few months, Arlington will host various dialogues with three focus areas:
- DRE in Your Community – We encourage Arlington residents to sign up for small interactive virtual conversations with neighbors to learn and discuss race and equity in Arlington County.
- DRE Together – We are inviting partners, including Arlington nonprofits, civic associations, faith organizations, and businesses to join us in hosting interactive conversations within their own networks and with other organizations. DRE Partners will receive facilitator training and dialogue resources. Sign up now to be a partner.
- DRE in Your Neighborhood – Launching later this year, provides for neighbor-to-neighbor facilitated conversations in the community.
Arlington is partnering with Challenging Racism to facilitate the dialogues for Arlingtonians to learn from each other, provide input and participate in a collective conversation critical to the growth and equity within the community. The organization also is conducting the assessment on perspectives on race and equity in Arlington.
“Arlington deeply values open community opinion and perspective. By launching DRE, we hope to encourage community participation across the County on addressing and advancing issues of racial injustice and inequity. The assessment will help us understand where Arlingtonians are on the journey and the dialogues will help us begin to normalize conversations on race and equity to know where and how we want to grow and evolve as a community” said Samia Byrd, Chief Race and Equity Officer for Arlington County.
Racial inequity affects not only the present-day lives of Arlingtonians but also future opportunities for residents and businesses alike. From economic mobility, housing, and land use policy to access to education, location of public facilities and infrastructure, and gaps in healthcare — as the pandemic has further exposed. The impetus for this effort is a recognition that it will take all Arlingtonians to create positive change.
“Arlington has always prided itself on the shared community value of inclusion, yet we understand that there are systems that remain in place that prevent true equity and justice from being realized,” said Arlington County Board Member Christian Dorsey. “We are committed to moving our community forward into a new era—where our values are reflected in the experiences and opportunities of everyone who calls Arlington home.”
For more information and to learn how you can participate in the Perspectives on Race and Equity Assessment, join DRE in Your Community conversations, or become a DRE Together partner visit the Arlington County Dialogues on Racial Equity webpage.