New Tools for Advancing Racial Equity in Arlington

Published on May 12, 2021

Arlington County today released a set of new tools to help advance racial equity efforts in Arlington. The collection of neighborhood toolkits and data dashboards are products of the County's Realizing Arlington's Commitment to Equity (RACE) program.

"Talking frankly about race and equity in our society can be difficult, and we're taking steps to help everyone normalize conversations about race," says Samia Byrd, Chief Race and Equity Officer. "We're also digging deep into the history and data to better organize, operationalize, and assess racial equity throughout our community. These tools are foundational to supporting long-term culture change and addressing systemic racism. While we have a long way to go, these early tools provide a way to understand and talk about our past, learn who we are now as a community and identify and shape the journey to who we want to become in the future."

Dialogues on Racial Equity: DRE in Our Neighborhood

The Toolkits for Conversations on Race & Equity are self-guided programs that can be used to spark conversations with family, friends, and neighbors. Three unique chapters are available for conversations around kitchen tables, back yards:

  • Toolkit on Bias — Bias is a preference in favor of, or against, a person, group of people, or thing. This toolkit can help participants examine patterns of bias, and to challenge negative or harmful biases within us and around us.
  • Toolkit on Equity — While "equality" means everyone has the same rights, opportunities and resources, "equity" recognizes that equality doesn't truly address everyone's needs. This toolkit can help build understanding about the difference between the terms and facilitate conversations around racial equity.
  • Toolkit on Privilege — Privilege can be defined as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. This toolkit is intended to guide exploration about the advantages that people might accrue from privilege — even if they are unaware that they have it — and looks at how racism is built into society in some surprising ways.

Designed with our partner, Challenging Racism, each conversational unit will take about an hour and can be done in informal settings such as with family around the dinner table, with a book club, or in other social gatherings. We hope that as people have these conversations among family, friends, and neighbors, they build their capacity to talk with anyone, anywhere.

The toolkits are a continuation of the conversations that were initiated during the Dialogues on Racial Equity in Your Community virtual sessions hosted in 2020.


New Demographic Data Dashboards

The County also is releasing two dashboards that organize Arlington's demographic data at the countywide and subcounty levels. The Race and Ethnicity Dashboard offers the ability to compare 22 key demographic variables of Arlington's population by race and ethnicity. The Census Tract Demographic Dashboard allows users to discover the variations in demographics throughout Arlington at the Census Tract level. The interactive dashboards allow users to drill down into demographic data to discover snapshots of racial equity — and inequity — in Arlington.


Racial Equity History & Timeline

The County is in the process of assembling an educational timeline featuring the history of race in Arlington over multiple centuries. This enlightening project will help the community assess where we are and how we got here. In addition, the County has additional online resources available now that highlight Arlington's history through webpages, images, transcripts, and more.

About Realizing Arlington's Commitment to Equity (RACE)

The County Board adopted an Equity Resolution in September 2019. To further this commitment to equity, the County established RACE (Realizing Arlington's Commitment to Equity). The mission of RACE is to advance racial equity as a countywide priority to eliminate, reduce, and prevent disparities in our policies, procedures practices, engagement, and interaction with and service to the community. An equitable Arlington is one where all are valued, educated, healthy and safe regardless of race.

Learn more about RACE and other equity-related initiatives in Arlington County.