Today we celebrate Juneteenth, the day enslaved Black Americans were finally freed.
It’s also a day for reflection: In 155 years, we simply haven’t done enough to repair the harmful history of enslavement.
The Graduate Tacoma Advocacy Network was created to disrupt long-standing inequities for historically underserved communities. That commitment has guided our work in advocating for specific policies to improve educational equity.
Today, we are announcing an important pivot in our advocacy work and calling on others to join us. Policy change is no longer enough — we must advocate for the re-allocation, prioritization, and protection of public resources. Equal funding is no longer enough— we must advocate for equitable funding.
In the simplest terms, equity means that those who need more support get more support. We recognize that support requires funding. We recognize that we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to reimagine and rebuild education and community-based services with equitable resources that our Black, Brown and most marginalized children and families need.
For example, rather than evaluating funding on an equalized, per-student basis, bringing an equity lens to education funding would better allow lawmakers to uniquely address specific barriers facing actual students and student populations. Rather than viewing childcare as a system, an equity lens would allow lawmakers to prioritize (and protect) slots for families who would be most unjustly disadvantaged by programmatic cuts.
Advocacy around funding is particularly critical right now: The state of Washington announced this week that it anticipates an $8 billion shortfall in the next three years. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic put the U.S. economy in a recession, with record unemployment. That means fewer people are spending money, which translates into less revenue to the state through sales and business taxes. And while there are proposals to raise taxes to avoid drastic cuts, we don’t see a scenario where those proposals would be large or quick enough to avoid cuts.
With deep spending cuts on the way, we want to ensure we advocate as strongly as we possibly can to ensure the cuts do not disproportionately harm our region’s Black and Brown residents — impacting their chances to success in career, school and life.
Racist, oppressive and inequitable systems exist and thrive in every state and community in our nation. Tacoma is no exception. However, what is the exception is that we, the Graduate Tacoma community movement, are committed to working to bend the arc of history toward justice for our children and families.