Policy guides our lives in ways seen and unseen.  Whether those policies are ones that we follow in our workplaces or ones that are enacted through legislation, they impact our lives on a daily basis.

Although many in society would strive to have policy be “universalist” – having no disproportionate impact on individuals or groups – history points to the devastating impact of policies when they are put in place without considering whether individuals who are members of historically marginalized groups will be overly-impacted.

For this reason, Associated Black Charities has introduced a handy, readable guide that offers concrete considerations for policy-makers, be they in our institutions or our legislature.  This guide, “Policy Application of a Racial Equity Lens” builds on initiatives in other cities and states that explicitly focus on improving community well-being by addressing institutional racism and eliminating racial inequities – inequities that collectively cost us $2 trillion per year, nationally.[1]

The cost of these racialized inequities puts the future of our families and children at risk.  Policies that give careful intent to exploring the potential for detrimental racialized consequences (not necessarily from personal or intentional racial hostility but from the ways in which race continues to impact policy implementation and outcomes) benefit us all.

They help ensure that a diverse talent pipeline will be available for businesses and civic leadership as opposed to being lost to place-based over-policing and over-incarceration.  In Maryland, African Americans have been three times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession regardless of percentage of population in Maryland Counties or comparable rates of drug use.[2]  While there is no return on investment to Maryland for those who are incarcerated, there is a great return on investment when citizens are invested in through education and support.  They, in turn, become investors in their communities and state – and that is what Maryland needs.

Our “Policy Application of a Racial Equity Lens” offers 10 essential questions that allow policy-makers and civic leaders opportunities to take a deeper look at potential racialized disproportionalities on communities and groups before those policies – whether in organizations, businesses, or in the legislature – are approved.

Use of this document is a no-risk way that Maryland can invest in its citizens – and its future.

To download “Policy Application of a Racial Equity Lens”, go to http://www.abc-md.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/BrochureOnline-V2.pdf

[1] Ani Turner. The Business Case for Racial Equity. Altarum Institute, 2013.

[2] Ezekiel Edwards, Will Bunting, Lynda Garcia. The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests. ACLU, 2013.