A panel dedicated to racial healing met for the first time in Richmond Tuesday. Virginia’s Governor created the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion after the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
The Governor’s executive order asks the 35 member commission to figure out how hatred and discrimination festered to the point where a woman was killed. They’re supposed to explore how white supremacists become radicalized, and what can be done to stop them. Finally, they’re tasked with creating a list of policy changes the state can make to help prevent another Charlottesville.
If it seems like a tall task, that’s because it is, admits Cynthia Hudson. She’s co-chair of the commission and Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia.
“My hope is that we are able to quickly identify action items that are achievable, and achievable within the near term,” said Hudson.
During their first meeting the panel of religious leaders, community advocates and educators broke into small groups and tackled questions like: How can we better tell Virginia’s stories? How do Virginia’s laws perpetuate discrimination?
Gail Christopher is a consultant helping guide the commission’s work. She’s done similar work in communities across the country through the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation program.
Christopher says this is the first executive order of this scope.
“I think it’s very significant and timely and important and has great implications,” Christopher said. “And yes we will be sharing, assuming we have permission to do that, we will be sharing the work of this commission with other leaders around the country.”
The commission has until the end of the year to produce an interim report suggesting specific policies for the Governor to submit to lawmakers. They’ll produce a final report by the end of 2018.