by Stacey Prince
Last week on Martin Luther King Day, the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO), a coalition of over 20 organizations working to promote racial, economic and social equity, released the first ever Washington State Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity. The purpose of the report was to evaluate WA legislature for its actions in 2009 that either supported or undermined racial equity in our state. This is an amazing document, with an abundance of information gathered in a succinct, 50 page report. I encourage you to read the report yourself (a link to it is available at http://washingtoncan.org/) but here would like to provide a brief summary to highlight some findings and hopefully peak your interest.
The report begins by providing an overview of the current make-up of Washington state residents by county, showing the percentage of people of color, immigrants, and non-native English speakers in our state. This review underscores the fact that people of color are an increasingly large proportion of residents in WA state. It then reviews current racial disparities in our state, some of which are increasing. For example, median income, number of families without health insurance, and high school drop-out rates are increasing at a faster rate for people of color than for whites. The authors make the point that our Governor, representatives and senators have multiple opportunities every year to positively impact racial disparities. This report card is an effort to evaluate how they did in 2009.
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