2-Minute Takeaways is a learning series for LEE members to quickly boost their civic leadership IQ.
I spend a lot of time reading the news, talking about the news, texting about the news—the list goes on. Sometimes, “inequity” feels like a far away problem—a crisis I confront through my screen.
Simultaneously, I find myself spending less time addressing inequities right next door or down the street. My colleagues gave me some advice: Start by simply reflecting on your surroundings. You don’t have to come up with solutions or answers right away.
Think about your neighborhood. What do you see?
These questions can help you consider inequities in your own backyard:
- Does my neighborhood feel safer or less safe than others nearby? Conditions like disparities in income, housing density, and community resources can all contribute to real or perceived differences in neighborhood safety.
- Do I notice differences in upkeep, such as trash services or pest control? Thanks to city data transparency initiatives, in many places, you can see obvious trends in complaints by neighborhood–such as in this NYC 311 Service Request Map. You may notice trends in the types of issues reported, or even in the frequency of reports, by neighborhood.
- Would I be comfortable sending my kids to the school closest to me? How about the one across town? School quality, boundaries, racial and income diversity, and more intersect in the way parents/guardians experience this question. What does it mean to have or not have confidence in educational institutions near to you? Before jumping to personal or policy solutions, what are the roots of that reality?
- Do I read local crime headlines or use apps like Citizen? What do I notice? When I consume content about my neighborhood–and ones near mine–what stories rise to the forefront? Am I over-indexing or under-indexing on certain types of stories? What should I be concerned about?
- What do I notice about the racial or socioeconomic makeup of my neighborhood and peer groups? This can be one of the hardest questions to ask yourself. How are markers of inequity manifesting in my personal life? Do you live in a racially diverse area? How about a socioeconomically diverse area? What do you notice about your closest peer groups?
Inequity can take shape in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. Meanwhile, its roots are deeply ingrained and tangled throughout our society.
Growing your personal power requires confronting hard truths. If you are seeing inequity, it’s your responsibility to face it. It’s both the challenge and opportunity of being an equity leader!
Your voice is needed, and you don’t have to do it alone. LEE is here to support your growth as a leader with resources for the whole spectrum of civic engagement, from registering to vote to exploring a career as an elected leader.
Brent Lomas is the Director of Communications, Planning & Innovation at Leadership for Educational Equity. Prior to joining LEE, Brent led the marketing team at ProcureK12 by Noodle Markets, where he helped reimagine K12 spending–streamlining hundreds of competitive solicitations, and registering over 30,000 teachers to receive district-negotiated supplies pricing. A Teach for America alum, Brent taught at Aspire Public Schools and Harlem Village Academies. He has hosted cabarets and fundraisers throughout New York City as his alter-ego Ruby Powers since 2014, and he is also a periodic contributor to Queerty.com. Brent received his BA in Communication from the University of Southern California and his M.Ed. in Urban Schooling from the University of California, Los Angeles.