CA Racial Equity Coalition Highlights the Importance of the First Meeting of California’s Racial Equity Commission

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2024
Contact: Tyler Bushnell,


CA Racial Equity Coalition Highlights the Importance of the First Meeting of California’s Racial Equity Commission

SACRAMENTO – Today, California’s Racial Equity Commission is holding its first public meeting. Thanks to tireless advocacy from the California Racial Equity Coalition – consisting of grassroots organizations, racial justice and equity-focused nonprofits, and community advocates alike – Governor Newsom established the state’s first Racial Equity Commission via Executive Order N-16-22. The Executive Order identifies several equity-focused proposals and outlines the Commission’s roles and responsibilities which include developing a framework, best practices, and resources to address the legacy of institutional and systemic racism in California’s government policies and programs.

In 2020, our nation was confronted, once again, with the unrelenting need to face a racial reckoning after our entire country and the world witnessed the inhumane murder of George Floyd. This heinous act embodied the impact and trauma of decades of unaddressed systemic racism and it was also compounded by the glaring disparities in health outcomes felt by communities most significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period of time, leaders in the public, philanthropic, and private sectors openly acknowledged the effects of racism as a detriment to public health. As a result, the coalescence of each of these events began the important and overdue discussion of declaring racism a public health crisis and confronting the legacy of systemic racism. Sadly, many of the promises, declarations, and initiatives that were made during this timeframe have fallen by the wayside.

However, in 2022, the creation of California’s Racial Equity Commission was a first step among many to reignite our state’s journey on a path towards policies and practices to combat systemic racism in state government entities. Learn more from the Greenlining Institute — one of the co-sponsors of the Commission. California must prioritize meaningful equity solutions and best practices to reflect how state entities can serve Californians who have been most harmed by systemic racism. The California Racial Equity Coalition and other advocates alike look forward to the opportunity to engage, support, and partner with the state in its fight to address racial equity in a meaningful way.

Statement from PolicyLink, Senior Associate, California State Policy, Eugene Canson:

“The creation of the California Racial Equity Commission provides the state an opportunity to address the structural, systemic, and persistent inequities that are embedded within our government structures. PolicyLink is resolute in our commitment to unlock the promise of the nation by unleashing the promise in us all. To achieve this future, we must hold our government entities accountable while promoting standards and policies that respect everyone’s humanity and reflect the diversity of this state. We are excited about the work that is taking place and look forward to working diligently alongside many racial equity advocates to support the mission of the Racial Equity Commission.”

Statement from Prevention Institute, Associate Program Manager, Vince Leus:

“With the Governor’s Executive Order establishing the Racial Equity Commission, the state is embarking on a vital effort to coordinate state resources and governmental infrastructure to achieve racial equity in California. As a nonprofit dedicated to advancing health equity, we at Prevention Institute know that racialized patterns in health outcomes are the product of governmental policies that have marginalized and disinvested in Black, Indigenous, Latine, and other communities of color for centuries. For example, policy decisions have led to the siting of polluting industries in Black and Latine neighborhoods, denying health-promoting resources like clean air and drinkable water, while also barring segregated communities from economic opportunity. To achieve health equity in our racially and economically diverse state, we must achieve racial justice. Today, we are galvanized by the opportunity to support the Commission’s development of a Racial Equity Framework to ensure the state is equipped to dismantle institutionalized racism and invest in the resources communities of color need to thrive.”

Statement from CHIRLA, Executive Director, Angelica Salas:

“The creation of the racial equity commission illustrates California’s continued commitment to creating a California for all, one where every Californian regardless of their race, ethnicity, or country of origin has the ability to thrive in California. California is home to a vibrant immigrant community that contributes significantly, both culturally and economically, to our state. Racial justice and immigrant rights go hand in hand, and I look forward to the work that will be accomplished by the Racial Equity Commission to improve the lives of millions.”

Statement from State of Equity (a program of the Public Health Institute), Executive Director, Julia Caplan:

“The State of California is uniquely poised to put racial equity at the heart of our public institutions by advancing policies and practices that uproot structural racism and the inequities it causes. The launch of the Racial Equity Commission is an historic moment, and the Commission can serve as a national beacon as it builds racial equity capacity for our state government, develops standards, creates accountability, partners with community, and organizes for change across the entire state government enterprise. This work has already begun with over 40 agencies, departments, offices, boards, and commissions having established some combination of racial equity leadership teams, staff positions, and action plans through the Capitol Collaborative on Race and Equity (CCORE). State of Equity proudly commits our support to the Racial Equity Commission and looks forward to our continued and deepening partnership with California’s state government as we open this next chapter in our collective journey toward racial justice.”

Statement from The California Alliance of Child and Family Services, Vice President of Public Policy and Strategy, Adrienne Shilton:

“The California Alliance of Child and Family Services strongly applauds the establishment of the Racial Equity Commission under Governor Newsom’s Executive Order. We believe that recognizing racism as a public health crisis is a crucial step toward dismantling systemic healthcare disparities that affect communities of color across California. The establishment of this Commission underscores California’s dedication to addressing historical wrongs and achieving racial equity in all aspects of governance. We believe that the Commission will be instrumental in fostering transparency, accountability, and best practices to advance racial equity in California’s policies and programs, further enhancing our collective efforts in the pursuit of justice and equal opportunity for all.”

Statement from Catalyst California (formerly Advancement Project California), Associate Director of Government Relations, Sadalia King:

“California has been a beacon of hope for racial equity across our nation, but more is still needed to make this a reality for all Californians. The Racial Equity Commission is the next step in our collective journey for our state government to embrace innovation to realize this vision and accept accountability for its role in creating and maintaining racial disparities. By centering racial equity within its decision-making processes, policies, practices, and budget priorities, we can finally address the systemic racism that has plagued our state since its inception.”

Statement from Community Coalition (CoCo), President and Chief Executive Officer Alberto Retana:

“Community Coalition’s organizing and policy work seeks to address the root causes and systemic challenges that the Racial Equity Commission has set out to change,” stated Alberto Retana, President and CEO of Community Coalition. “As in so many areas, California has the opportunity to lead the nation with its Racial Equity Commission in addressing racial inequities in policymaking that keep communities of color under-resourced and economically stagnant. The Commission has the ability to create accountability and parity throughout the entire state.”

Statement from Greenlining Institute, Vice President of Policy, Alvaro Sanchez: 

“The Greenlining Institute’s work over the last three decades has shown us that racial equity will not just ‘happen.’ It will be created with intentional, decisive, immediate action. We must confront systemic racism at its root and build enduring, transformative new solutions. Instilling equity in our work means learning from the past to make the future better for all and especially for those who have been traditionally left out. Equity binds us together to make us strong and resilient. As the state’s first ever Racial Equity Commission hosts its inaugural meeting we wish the Commissioners and staff the best in their endeavor to help make California a better place for all to live. Greenlining will be there at every step of the way, as a resource, cheerleader and an accountability partner to support the health and well-being of our most historically vulnerable Californians.”

Statement from Public Health Advocates, Executive Director Harold Goldstein:

“The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the disproportionate impact of public health crises on low-income communities and communities of color in California. As our planet warms and we face ever more natural, biological, and manmade disasters, we must overhaul existing systems that will otherwise risk the lives and livelihoods of historically disinvested communities. The Racial Equity Commission has the unique opportunity to lead this transformation by establishing an equitable funding framework for emergency response as a California State Equity Standard. By doing so, California can put money where the need is greatest and resolve injustices in a broken emergency response system that has failed BIPOC communities time and again.”

Statement from SEIU California, Executive Director, Tia Orr

“The first meeting of the Racial Equity Commission comes at a critical moment: California is facing a budget deficit that has the potential to hit workers of color and communities of color the hardest. The thinking that this commission promises to instill throughout California’s budgeting and planning processes is urgently needed. Our state needs to put equity for Black and Brown people ahead of corporate profits and billionaires’ wealth.”

California Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (CALACAP), President, Teresa Frausto, MD:

“CALACAP applauds Governor Newsom in his decision to form the Racial Equity Commission.  We welcome his and the Commission’s collaboration and partnership in addressing racial disparities and inequities in California’s systems and institutions and in governmental operations and decisions which are critical in impacting social determinants of health and health equity. We look forward to working together with the Commission and with our other partners to advance and center the priorities and needs of our most marginalized populations, improving the mental health and well-being for all of our children and their families.”

Statement from NextGen California, Senior Policy Advisor and Partnerships Manager, Elena Santamaria: 

“Meaningfully addressing inequities and racial disparities is a challenging road to navigate that requires sustained leadership, intentional solutions, as well as the courage to drastically change the social and economic conditions of those who historically have been most harmed. With the bright light shone by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, California can position itself on a path towards developing anti-racist solutions for everyone who calls the Golden State home. We look forward to the first meeting of the Racial Equity Commission and collaborating with the Administration to uplift community-based solutions, and continuing the work required to put equity at the forefront of California’s policies and programs.”


The organizations above represent the California Racial Equity Coalition is made up of advocacy groups, researchers, organizers, and policy change agents dedicated to making California’s communities healthier and equitable.