NYSBA Adopts Report Making Recommendations To Bring About Change to Long-Standing Racial Inequities
The New York State Bar Association is urging the state to establish a commission to study the harm done by slavery and consider possible remedies.
The House of Delegates approved this recommendations and 12 others at the association’s Annual Meeting in New York City. The recommendations were contained in a 105-page report written by the association’s Task Force on Racism, Social Equity and the Law, which studied the issue for more than 18 months.
“The wealth gap is the result of structural racism that has perpetuated the inequities experienced by people of color,” said NYSBA President Sherry Levin Wallach. ”Inadequate access to healthcare, disproportionate educational opportunities, and redlined communities are just some of the more prevalent causes of racism.”
The House of Delegates is also recommending:
- Jury procedures to guarantee the constitutional principle that defendants will be judged by a jury of their peers
- Establishment of an independent commission to address equitable educational funding
- Government accountability on environmental justice issues
- Changes to property appraisal processes to promote equity
- Education for licensed professionals and provider facilities to minimize bias
To determine how to address the wealth gap, the association is suggesting the commission should try to find remedies that would have long-term benefits, reducing the wealth gap beyond the current generation.
Access to capital for minority-owned businesses, lead free drinking water, and support measures to reduce or eliminate racial disproportionality in school discipline are some of the other recommendations approved by the House of Delegates.
History of Racism
New York’s history of racism and social inequity dates to its inception as a Dutch Republic colony, according to the report. A key port city, New York City was at the center of prevailing negative perceptions about non-whites, especially Africans who arrived as slaves.
In addition, historical discriminatory practices have impeded the efforts of African Americans to obtain employment that would enable them to become embedded in the middle class. Nearly 73% of poor children in America are children of color. Meanwhile, white families account for nearly 71% of family income although they only represent 60% of families in New York State, according to the report.
Recommended actions for a commission to address include identifying a framework for examining the myriad issues and remedies that can be taken at both the state and federal levels.