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Carmichael Times

Discussion is Successful at First Racial Equity Summit

Dec 06, 2023 10:47AM ● By Sacramento County News Release

From left to right the summit panel showcases: Ryan Curren Director of Housing, Land and Development at Race Forward; Dr. Walter Wilson CEO at Silicon Valley Minority Business Consortium Panelist; Dr. Sylvester Fadal Director of Personnel Services, Sacramento County; Dr. Mia Settles Tidwell Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, Sacramento State University; Nathan Blacksmith, MBA Chief Traditional Health Officer, Sacramento Native American Health Center’s Tribal Affiliation: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate; and Dr. Olivia Kasirye Public Health Officer, Sacramento County. Photo courtesy of Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On stage, Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna began his session at the first Sacramento County Racial Equity Summit at Sacramento State University by capturing the more than 300 attendees’ attention when he asked whether they had played the board game Monopoly.

As hands began to rise, he continued by asking everyone to imagine playing the game with a group of people for several hours. The game is heated, and most properties and utilities are already bought. Hotels and homes have taken over the board. However, nearby there are a couple of people who have been excluded; they were pushed away and not allowed to play, and now it's late in the game.

“As you know, a couple of hours with compound interest really change how much capital you can accumulate and just how you are feeling showing up late in the game,” said Dr. Radhakrishna. “Well, that’s the reality of the playing field that we are dealing with. Except it is not a few hours of being excluded from the game; it is decades and even centuries.”

Verbal “woahs” could be heard in the moments between his sentences as the crowd made the connection between the board game and our current racial inequities.

He followed by acknowledging that Sacramento County’s Racial and Equity Summit is about bringing County employees, community leaders, activists and residents together for two days to discuss these tough conversations. It’s a time to learn what the County and its partners are doing in the form of equity work and what still needs to be done in the future.

Over the course of the summit, participants broke out into four sessions, including “Environmental Justice Element – Creating an Equitable Sacramento County” and “Cultural Broker Program – Navigating the Child Welfare System and the Critical Need for Culturally Responsive Advocacy.” Here, participants could not only listen to subject-matter experts but also further the conversation with their own perspectives and questions.

“You started off the session talking about the deaths of George Floyd and Stephon Carter. Prior to the deaths of those young men, I lost my son in 2017, 16 years old, to gun violence,” said one participant. “I’m wanting to know, has Sacramento County recognized that our children have post-traumatic stress disorder, and are we addressing that?”

After a first day of heavy conversations, County Executive, Ann Edwards began the final day of the inaugural event by thanking all those who have participated, shared and added to the discussions on this important occasion to advance equity work. Reminding everyone that while the County has made a good start, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

To watch the Racial Equity Summit keynote speech and opening sessions, visit the Metro14 website. Breakout sessions will be available soon.