Racial equity task force hosts initial meeting

DOVER — A task force looking at issues Black Delawareans face held its first meeting Wednesday.

The group, formed through legislation in June, aims to study structural and explicit racism in hopes of taking steps toward a more equitable society. It is broken up into four subcommittees: economic opportunity, health and welfare, safety and justice, and infrastructure and environment.

The creation stems from a proposal by the Legislative Black Caucus in the wake of George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May. In the aftermath, the eight members of the caucus announced a package of racial justice bills. Proposals to explicitly outlaw racial discrimination and ban knee and choke holds were successful.

Lawmakers also established this task force and another looking at police accountability, specifically in regard to treatment of minorities.

Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden, a Wilmington Democrat who is co-chairing the task force, said members are driven by “longstanding systemic issues in our society that for generations have stacked the deck against Americans” of color.

Inequities exist in health care, in housing and in business, just to name a few, speakers said, briefly highlighting the country’s long history of racism and inequality.

One of the main areas that disproportionately affects Black Delawareans is gun violence, which has become an epidemic in Wilmington.

“So many families throughout our state know the forever lasting pain of gun violence,” said Rep. Nnamdi Chukwuocha, a Wilmington Democrat leading the safety and justice panel.

The task force and its subgroups include lawmakers, cabinet secretaries or their representatives and community leaders. It is due to report to the General Assembly, which reconvenes in January, at some point.

The initial meeting, which took place over Zoom, focused on procedure, outlining the task force’s purpose and giving an overview of the subcommittees and participants. The rosters for the subgroups are still being crafted, as are most future meeting dates.

Individuals hoping to offer input can email AfricanAmericanTaskForce@delaware.gov.