Crossroads Public Affairs provides new approach to statewide community engagement on Black policy issues
If you ever wondered what you would do if you lived during the Black civil rights movement of the 1960s, you have an opportunity now.
The state’s top law enforcement official recently declared war on corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs, joining 13 Attorney Generals demanding an end to race-based corporate DEI programs.
At the same moment we are seeing a national corporate regression on racial justice and DEI efforts from the decline in chief diversity officer positions and the slowing of corporate financial commitments toward racial justice among the largest 1000 companies in the country by 32% since 2021, according to a Mckinsey and Company analysis.
Not unlike the Black civil rights movement of the 1960s economic disparities continue to hurt Black communities across the state.
Indiana has a Black-white homeownership gap of 37.6%, outpacing the national Black-white homeownership gap of 29%, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The unemployment rate for Black Hoosiers was 6% in the 1st quarter of 2023, while the white unemployment rate was 2.5% and the Hispanic rate was 3.9%.
And according to WFYI, over a quarter of Black Hoosiers around the state live in food deserts.
At a moment where there is a national conversation about “the benefits of slavery” for Black people, only 10.9% of Black students passed the I-Learn test in 2022, up a paltry 1% from the previous year.
Faced with these economic challenges it is no wonder that Black Hoosiers experience disproportionate levels of adverse quality of life outcomes.
According to the Violence Policy Center, except for 2011, Indiana has been in the top ten for gun violence deaths for Black Hoosiers from 2004 through 2020.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, African American males are more than 3 times more likely to die by suicide then females.
And while the Black population is 10.3%, Black adults make up 31.2% of state prisons according to Indiana’s Equity Portal.
Black communities face these challenges while Black political representation in the Indiana General Assembly is limited to just two counties, Marion County and Lake County.
While certainly non-Black elected officials can represent Black communities and their issues, over 200,000 Black Hoosiers are not represented by a Black elected official. This political reality creates a circumstance where legislators can too easily minimize engagement efforts on Black advocacy efforts to Marion County or Lake County issues.
In response to our electoral circumstance and the forementioned data, Indiana Black Expo and Crossroads Public Affairs, LLC, a black owned full service public affairs firm, hosted the inaugural IBE Policy Summit and partnered with Black Onyx Management, a Black owned applied research firm and management consultancy to develop a policy survey. Black elected and appointed officials from both political parties, Black business owners, civic, neighborhood and faith leaders met to learn about the condition of Black Hoosiers around the state and a path forward.
Focused on moving past partisan politics, with a laser focus on policy, Black Democrats and Black Republicans came together to agree that now was the time to act in a more strategic and collaborative fashion.
The Blueprint, or a framework for the path forward was presented and included the following steps:
1) Gather priorities and policy ideas from the community with a survey
2) Prioritize based on feedback from survey and community engagement
3) Act on identified policy ideas based on feasibility and impact
Attendees and those who rsvp’d for the session were invited to complete a survey that takes less than 5 minutes and will help gather priorities and identify policy ideas from Black communities across the state. Representation from five communities with significant Black populations have already engaged.
A convening on Sept. 8 will be an opportunity to share both the data and policy ideas for further consideration.