On July 6, 2020, our County commissioners signed a resolution recognizing systemic racism and discrimination as a public health crisis. They asserted that “racism and discrimination cause harm to individuals and communities, and Wake County’s collective prosperity depends on equitable access to opportunity for every resident.” 

In February 2022, Wake County expanded efforts by joining the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). GARE is a national network of government entities working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Across the country, governmental jurisdictions are: 

  • Making a commitment to achieving racial equity,
  • Focusing on the power and influence of their own institutions, and
  • Working in partnership with others.

Wake County staff continues to build its internal capacity to address racial inequity and how it impacts both practices and policies.   From building fluency to integrating race equity principles into strategic plans, Wake County seeks to sustain efforts across all County departments.  Our efforts started with the launching of an enterprise-wide race equity survey and a Race Equity Committee charged with guiding our work forward. 

Why lead with race?

GARE leads with race, with the recognition that the creation and perpetuation of racial inequities has been baked into government, and that racial inequities across all indicators for success are deep and pervasive. We also know that other groups of people are still marginalized, including based on gender, sexual orientation, ability and age, to name but a few. Focusing on racial equity provides the opportunity to introduce a framework, tools and resources that can also be applied to other areas of marginalization.

It is critical to address all areas of marginalization, and an institutional approach is necessary across the board. As local and regional government deepens its ability to eliminate racial inequity, it will be better equipped to transform systems and institutions impacting other marginalized groups.

Why does working for racial equity benefit everyone?

Developing a network of government focusing on racial equity is critically important to getting to different outcomes in our communities. The goal must be beyond closing the gap; we must establish appropriate benchmarks that lift up all populations while paying close attention to those often excluded. Implementing strategies to “close the gaps” from this perspective has been called “targeted universalism,” meaning improvements for all groups. Advancing equity moves us beyond just focusing on disparities. Deeply racialized systems are costly and depress outcomes and life chances for all groups. 

The goal is not to just eliminate the gap between white people and people of color, but to increase the success for all groups. Racial equity develops goals and outcomes that will result in improvements for all groups, but the strategies are targeted based on the needs of a particular group. Systems that are failing communities of color, are actually failing all of us. Targeted universalism will increase our collective success and be cost effective.