Everything in Cook County government will be judged on “equity,” we learned last week. Everything.
That’s what Toni Preckwinkle, president of the county’s board, said in a Chicago Tribune op-ed that kicked off the county’s Racial Equity Week.
“We have encouraged our staff to use a racial equity lens with every policy and program,” she wrote. The op-ed and other materials released over the week linked to over a hundred pages of policy documents related thereto.
What does equity mean? It includes equal treatment of everybody regardless of ability and regardless of, well, whatever – any “other characteristics.” Here’s the definition from their Racial Equity Policy Statement:
Equity means full inclusion of all residents in the economic, social and political life of Cook County, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, age, ability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, neighborhood of residence or other characteristics. [Emphasis added.]
Now, it would be unfair to label the whole week’s messaging as being that vague because it was in fact a clear, full-on endorsement of the worst of Critical Race Theory, or call it whatever you want – wokism, antiracism, white rage or something else.
That includes the assault on merit and ability, as reflected in the definition above. It includes contempt for America for its supposed systemic racism. From Preckwinkle’s op-ed:
We put these policies into place today because for centuries, racist government policies have ensured that huge swaths of our population did not have such access. These policies deliberately created a world that was not equal. In America, the playing field has never been level. If you are a woman, if you are Black, if you are Latinx, if you have a disability, if you speak another language, if you were born in another country — in other words, if you are most of the population of Cook County — the playing field has never been level.
It’s as if affirmative action hasn’t been what’s truly systemic in America for over 50 years. It’s as if there aren’t any whites who aren’t just as disadvantaged as many minorities, such as white kids living in poverty with a single, crack-addicted parent, stuck in underperforming schools like so many in Cook County County. It’s as if there aren’t any minority members who are now in their second or third generation with middle or upper incomes who aren’t disadvantaged at all.
Among the tragedies of that kind of mindset is the disincentive it creates for whites to go into public service. Suppose you’re deciding where to go after receiving a degree in public management or something requiring government contracts. If you’re a straight, white mail your chances of being hired and promoted fairly, or of being treated fairly when bidding for a government contract, are about as good as they would be for becoming a tenured professor at most universities – nearly zero.
The documents released over the course of the week include the predictable, such as “mandatory equity and inclusion training” for county workers and extension of all benefits to illegal immigrants. They expressly say that equality of results, not equality of opportunity is the goal:
“Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares,” says the Racial Equity Policy statement.
Also predictably, the materials distributed during the week brim with the usual social justice jargon, meaningless platitudes and righteous buzzwords.
Preckwinkle, for example, started her op-ed by telling us, “First, we must imagine what an equitable world looks like. Think about that for a moment,” she wrote.
“For many of us, that can be difficult to imagine, because we know this work takes time — this future might not happen in the next 10 years. Or 20.”
But we must go further, Preckwinkle teaches us.
“Once we have imagined that world, we must think ‘intersectionally’ to create it.”
“What does that mean?” she asks.
“We have to think about who is affected by the work that we do.”
You can find dozens of pages with wisdom like that in the Racial Equity Policy statement, the Racial Equity Action Plan, the Five-Year Strategic Plan and several press releases, all of which were distributed over the course of last week. Presumably, they were prepared under the direction of the county’s Director of Equity and Inclusion, Denise Wilmer Baretto. Her LinkedIn profile describes her as a “Relationship Revolutionist, Intersectional Storyteller.”
If you can’t follow the jargon, maybe the charts in the county’s materials will help. This “road map” summarizes the five-year plan.
Maybe it’s just me, but I have some concerns about the design of that road.
Keep in mind that Preckwinkle earlier this year wrote another op-ed, published nationally, touting the benefits of money-for-nothing in the form of a no-questions-asked cash assistance program run by the county. We wrote about that here. She sees the program as pilot for some form of UBI program – universal basic income.
“Sustainability,” naturally, is another central policy goal discussed in last week’s documents. It’s mostly about environmental matters.
Nice term, but it should be about more than the environment: Cook County is not sustainable on the path it is on.