Mayor Adler addresses institutional racism with task force

Mayor Steve Adler has gathered community leaders to create a plan to tackle the problem of institutional racism which is something he believes persists in Austin.

“We all know that society has cumulative and durable race based inequities. There are social structures in place that create these racial inequities, and that's what institutional racism is about,” said Adler.

Adler said the systemic racism dates back to the 1928 master zoning plan in Austin where the city was racially and economically zoned.

“We are responsible for alleviating the enduring legacy of inequities,” said Adler.

The task force consists of various community leaders including Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce-Burnette and Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz. They will address healthcare, criminal justice, banking, real estate and also, education.

“Some students are removed for discretionary reasons greater than other students and that's data we don't like to see. But it is what it is, and we need to address it,” said Cruz.

Recent incidents like the violent arrest of Breaion King and the shooting of David Joseph helped spark the movement. Adler says it's important to realize institutional racism in not blatant.

“It does not mean that we are racists in Austin, or that we have a racist society. What it does mean is we have structures in place that create unjust and inequitable outcomes,” said Adler.

“I strongly believe the nation was lulled back to sleep after the civil rights movement. What is new for me in this challenge is when the mayor asked me to do this he said, he wanted actionable ideas, “ said Burnette.

Adler expects the group to present those actionable ideas to him in March 2017 He hopes Austin can truly embody a forward thinking city with equal opportunity for all.