Senate Bill 17 (SB 17)

Establishes the Office of Racial Equity to address systemic racism within our government institutions.

  • Introduced
  • CA Senate Committee
  • Senate Floor Vote
  • CA Assembly Committee
  • Assembly Floor Vote
  • Bill Passed
  • Bill Signed

Background: California’s Racist History

The United States was built on an economic, social, and cultural foundation that included structural and systemic racism in its laws, policies, and programs. The trauma of our history — indigenous peoples wiped out for capitalist gain, colonization, slavery, white supremacy, internment camps, and discriminatory laws — has been shouldered by generations of people of color. There is ample research to prove that many people of color experience chronic stress from the effects of individual and collective racism, leading to heart disease, high blood pressure, immunodeficiency, and accelerated aging. Healing won’t happen unless we acknowledge racism for what it is — a public health crisis. We need to take immediate action to begin building a more equitable future for all Californians.

SB 17’s Proposed Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic shed a bright light on decades of structural racism and inequity in our system — especially when it comes to public health — and made evident the state’s failings to fix it.

SB 17 highlights and declares racism as a public health crisis and documents ways structural racism has contributed to the vast economic and social disparities we see today.

Deliberate policy and programmatic choices of the past have sustained the gross inequalities that surround our communities today. The proposed Office of Racial Equity and the Racial Equity Advisory and Accountability Council would assist, collaborate, and institutionalize California’s strategies for dismantling racism across state agencies and departments. The ORE would work in partnership with government, local communities, and grassroots organizations to collectively build a statewide Racial Equity Framework and require state agencies to create a Racial Equity Action Plans for their departments. We must urgently and strategically address structural racism. Equity can no longer be an afterthought to the State’s programmatic and policy work. California has an opportunity to address the poor decisions of the past by creating systems in place now to ensure its future is anti-racist.

Download the fact sheet

State government has a responsibility to address the systemic impacts of institutional racism on the people who call California home. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people of color at alarmingly high rates and brought to light decades of structural racism embedded in various policies and programs within the systems of government. SB 17 proposes an important and meaningful solution to address these inequities and will put California farther down the path towards an equitable California for all.

Arnold Sowell Jr., Executive Director of NextGen California

Our Focus on Healthcare

Fighting for every person who calls California home to have access to quality, equitable, and affordable healthcare. Ensuring that our healthcare system cares for the whole person – which means their physical and mental well-being.

More on Healthcare

Elena Santamaria

Policy Advisor
[email protected]

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