Facing Race: a Report Card on Racial Justice

Washingtonians concerned with social justice are keeping a watchful eye on their elected officials.

Washington CAN! and the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations partnered to release Facing Race: 2009 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity, the first ever report card to collectively and individually grade Washington’s state legislators and governor on their votes that either promoted or obstructed racial justice.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington CAN! and over twenty other community groups rallied in Olympia to promote racial justice in state policy. Over 500 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to send a message to elected officials: People are watching, and they are going to hold elected officials accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, on racial justice.

The report card is based on legislators’ 2009 voting record on legislation impacting racial inequity in the areas of

  • civil rights
  • economic justice
  • housing
  • education
  • health care
  • criminal justice
  • tribal sovereignty
  • budget equity
  • institutional racism

The Legislature as a whole received a “D,” with the House faring slightly better than the Senate. More than one-third of lawmakers received a failing grade.

Ninety percent of a legislator’s grade was determined by his or her response to 34 bills introduced during the 2009 session. A legislator could earn the remaining 10 points for sponsoring two pieces of legislation, for five points each, that promote racial equity. Lawmakers could also lose points for authoring legislation that widened racial disparities.

The Facing Race legislative report card is a valuable tool that can be used annually to track the legislature’s progress and hold lawmakers accountable to their constituents.

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