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City, State and Community Leaders Align to Tackle Institutional Racism

Proclamations, Senate Bill and Testimony on Roundhouse Agenda for “Deconstructing Racism Day”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M - The City of Albuquerque, the State of New Mexico, and community leaders are working together to address the legacies of racism and colonization at the root of the state’s persistent disparities in measures of health, wealth, education, and child well-being.

Mayor Tim Keller, Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham, and the City of Albuquerque Human Rights Board adopted proclamations recognizing February 13th as Deconstructing Racism Day in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Youth from Albuquerque will be testifying before the State Legislature today.

“We are coming to recognize that many policies and practices that appear to be ‘race neutral’ can have racially disparate outcomes,” said Michelle Melendez, Director of the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, a cabinet-level office established by Mayor Keller when he was elected in 2017.  “It is clear to us that addressing institutional racism is key to addressing these persistent inequities.”

Mayor Keller issued a proclamation, mirroring one adopted by the City’s Human Rights Board and proposed by the Deconstructing Racism Committee, which has been working for more than a decade to pass anti-racism legislation in New Mexico. It reads, in part:

“The City of Albuquerque is most successful when every person has equitable access to the conditions that support people’s well-being; and

“Eliminating complex inequalities and all barriers to equity, including those based on race/color, gender, class, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, language and their intersections, continues to be the City of Albuquerque’s goal.

The Legislature is also considering a bill, co-sponsored by Senator Linda Lopez and Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque, which would require state agencies to implement policies to decrease institutional racism. When Mayor Keller was a state senator, he co-sponsored similar legislation.

The proclamations are part of a plan by the City of Albuquerque Office of Equity and Inclusion to normalize conversations about race; examine the differential outcomes; work with community members and with city departments to assess policies and practices; and train city employees to recognize barriers and to work to address them so that all people have equitable opportunities to thrive.

The Human Rights Board, whose members were appointed by Mayor Keller and confirmed by City Council, meets monthly and reviews complaints of discrimination, as well as looks for opportunities to fully implement the City’s Human Rights Ordinance, first adopted in 1974.

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The mission of the Office of Equity and Inclusion is to inspire and equip city government to make Albuquerque a national role model for embracing diversity as our greatest asset. The office was created as part of Mayor Tim Keller’s vision to build a more inclusive Albuquerque. The Office of Equity and Inclusion is a recipient of a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant, furthering our efforts to increase equity across all indicators and diversity in the City’s workforce.