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Authorization of a Committee on Racial Justice & Intersectionality

At its meeting on June 12, 2020, the Access Commission recognized the importance of addressing the public about its support for measures to achieve greater racial justice in our society. The working group on that public statement recommend that the public statement be accompanied by action. The public statement says: 

The events of the past make it clear that deep and fundamental change to our justice system must be made and the time to do so is now. Our country is crying out for changes to eliminate institutional racism. This new order is long overdue to make our world not more, but completely, fair and just. We must not squander this opportunity.

To that end, our Commission has formed a new committee on Racial Justice and Intersectionality to ensure the Commission’s membership, values, goals, and work plans fully reflect our call to divest from white supremacy. The composition of the Commission body and all of its initiatives must include, center, and uplift all minority voices, with an emphasis on being led by people with lived experience that connects them directly to the impacts of institutionalized racism and subjugation. Not only are we committed to addressing racial and all forms of oppression and denial of opportunity, we are committed to the diversity that ensures our systems reflect the images, experiences, and ideas of all Californians. As we have so humbly been reminded by current events, the voices of all are required to ensure that justice for all is not just imagined, but achieved.

“Intersectionality” is part of the committee’s proposed title. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary it denotes “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” The working group states:

With this definition in mind, the goal of this committee is to ensure that the Commission’s work is always through an intersectional framework that fully acknowledges and seeks to dismantle the overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination and disadvantage that are at the heart of white supremacy. As a Commission and as a committee, we recognize that we cannot segment or compartmentalize categories or systems of oppression, but must remain vigilant in recognizing their interdependencies so that all impacted voices and experiences are centered and uplifted.

The Bylaws permit the Executive Committee to form a committee of the Access Commission if that committee will not have the delegated authority to act on behalf of the Commission.

The members of the Racial Justice and Intersectionality Committee shall include at least one member of the Access Commission. Its initial Co-Chairs shall be Panida Rzonca and Judge Erica Yew. The Access Commission, the Executive Committee, or the Racial Justice and Intersectionality Committee itself may appoint additional committee members and remove members, and may establish limits on the length of members’ service on the committee.

The committee will formulate a statement of its mission and goals, which will be provided to the full California Access to Justice Commission for its approval.