NYC, pass these three racial equity initiatives – New York Daily News – New York Daily News

The general election is just around the corner, and this year in New York, equity is on the ballot. Three New York City ballot initiatives up for your vote are essential first steps to make progress on racial and economic justice in all neighborhoods. However, as a community that lacks proper representation in citywide and statewide office, Latino communities across the five boroughs in particular have so much to gain from these ballot measures.
Nearly 2.5 million Latinos call New York City home. Given our population share, we need to ensure that this strength is felt at the polls by participating in the upcoming elections and making informed decisions on the ballot questions. While each ballot initiative is distinct, all three represent a step toward improving daily life for our neighbors who have been overlooked by city policy for far too long.
People wait in line to vote during early voting for the 2020 U.S. Presidential election in Jackson Heights, Queens. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
The first of these initiatives is the addition of a values-centered preamble that would hold city government officials accountable to create “a just and equitable city for all” New Yorkers. The statement would also focus on a commitment to addressing past harms to “reconstruct, revise and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions and laws,” so that all New Yorkers can trust they will be treated fairly.
Though the language may be vague, it is an important initiative to acknowledge the differing experiences of groups across New York City, and commit our lawmakers to prioritizing laws that will lead to tangible outcomes that benefit the Latino community. Despite representing more than 25% of the population in New York City and being the largest growing population nationwide, Latinos are underrepresented in government. Disparities in representation further entrench deep-seated economic and health disparities in our community. Any opportunity to reinforce our elected leaders’ responsibility to address long-standing inequities is worthy of our vote.
The second initiative would establish a new Office of Racial Equity, and appoint a Chief Equity Officer to head the city’s work in racial equity planning. Agencies across the city could benefit from the support of this new office and expand their capacity to ensure that services and programs actually help those who have been negatively impacted by previous policy.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated racial disparities in the city, with Latinos facing greater job loss and higher rates of infection. The policies in place throughout the pandemic did not take into account the greater losses for Latino communities. As the city rebuilds, it is imperative that new policies and initiatives prioritize those of us who were previously overlooked. Through the Office of Racial Equity, city officials will create a commission of experienced advocates on racial equity who would advocate for Latino communities in New York City and keep our needs top of mind.
The final ballot initiative would help lay the groundwork for city policy that prioritizes the needs of Latino New Yorkers. It’s an amendment under which the city would measure the “true cost of living” by tracking the cost of meeting essential needs, including paying for housing, food and transportation without considering public, private or informal assistance. This amendment would create a fairer system of determining need and inform policy decisions that take into consideration the gaps Latinos already face daily. Latino workers in the U.S. are paid 73 cents compared to every dollar paid to their white counterparts, which leads to gaps in securing food, housing and other essentials. By requiring the city to track the true cost of necessities, our government will be better equipped to meet the needs of Latinos living on the margins.
Latinos have long been an essential part of the fabric of New York City, whether it’s powering our economy, feeding our communities or contributing to our culture. But our government hasn’t always looked out for us. It’s long past time that changed. That’s why it’s so important for voters to turn out and vote our values. Voting “Yes” on these three initiatives could be a small step towards a more equitable future for our city.
Early voting starts on Saturday, Oct. 29, and Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Let’s come together as New Yorkers and cast our ballots in support of three simple initiatives. Doing so can change the lives of our neighbors who have been overlooked for far too long and showcase Latino political power in New York.
Miranda is president and CEO of the Hispanic Federation.
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News

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