A respected University of Texas study has found that Austin is the only high-growth city that is losing African Americans, both in terms of numbers and percentage of the total population. Do you consider this a problem? If so, what would you do to reverse or stabilize the decline?

Bobby Levinski

City Council, District 8

Yes; the rapid loss of African American families from our community is a serious problem, and it will continue to be a problem until we address the institutional biases that persist throughout our city services and within our community. Over the years, we have had many task forces and reports discussing these biases and the disparities they create, but we have lacked sufficient action and follow up by council. The Taskforce on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities is the latest of these reports, and it provides a great framework for proceeding with identifiable actions–such as improving hiring practices and expanding our workforce training programs to keep more local talent here; and establishing “right to stay” policies so families are not economically forced out. I will work closely with the City Manager to ensure we are investing resources to fund the recommended actions of the report so that it does not become yet another plan that sits on a shelf, unreferenced and unused.

On a more personal level, having taken the Undoing Racism training, I recognize my own responsibility in taking action in my circles of influence to dismantle white supremacy, and I will continue to educate myself on how I can better empower and support social justice organizations led by persons of color.