At its Dec. 4 work session, the Fort Worth City Council was given a final report from the Task Force on Race and Culture.
The task force was created in June of 2017 with 23 members, including four chairpersons, Rosa Navejar, Lillie Biggins, Rabbi Andrew Bloom and Bob Ray Sanders. They were assigned three tasks, community conversations about race and culture, assessment of disparities in provision of municipal services, and leadership training.
Task Force to be dissolved no later than Aug. 1, 2018, one year after adoption of resolution. However, that deadline was extended to Dec. 31.
“We needed that extension so that we could fine-tune all the data we found on the different levels of comments we received so we could provide you with accurate recommendations – implementable recommendations,” Navejar told the council.
The mission is to listen, learn, build, and bridge in order to create an inclusive Fort Worth for all residents. The vision is that Fort Worth will become a city that is inclusive, equitable, respectful, communal, and compassionate.
The task force has held 89 events in public engagement, including town hall meetings and open house meetings. They drew over 2,100 participants.
The top 10 issues discussed include:
*Discrimination in education.
*Failure to acknowledge the pervasiveness of racism.
*Discrimination in economic development.
*Discrimination in criminal justice.
*Racial segregation in the community.
*Lack of political representation for minorities.
*Discrimination in public accommodations.
*Discrimination in employment.
*Discrimination in housing.
Frequently expressed comments from community conversations include:
*Perception that the city is doing little or nothing to improve race relations, racial equity, and cultural awareness.
*Problem is systemic, structural, and institutional racism, not simply personal or individual behavior.
*City leaders have failed to acknowledge this problem, causing victims of racism to feel
unheard and causing perpetrators of racism to feel empowered.
*Need to continue, expand, and deepen community conversations about race and culture, and to clarify their measurable outcomes.
Highlights in criminal justice disparities include despite constituting 19 percent of Fort Worth’s population, African-Americans accounted for 41 percent of all arrests in 2016 and 41 percent again in 2017. Corresponding figures were 31 percent and 30 percent for Whites, and 27 percent and 28 percent for Hispanics.
In the recruitment of minorities and females for the police training academy, 13 percent of recruits are African-American, 26 percent are Hispanic, 3 percent identify as other, and 16 percent of recruits are female.
No African-American officers serve in any of the following units:
*SWAT (26 total officers).
*Criminal Intelligence (11).
*•Major Case (11).
Only one African-American officer serves on the Special Response Team (44 total officers).
Of 241 total officers at the rank of corporal/detective, 16 (7 percent) are African-American, 41 (17 percent) are Hispanic, and 10 (4 percent) are other.
*Civilian oversight of police department.
*Police cadet program.
*Diversity within police department.
Among economic disparities, in Fort Worth, the 2016 unemployment rate for whites was 4.2 percent, while African-American and Hispanic rates of unemployment stood at 6.1 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. These disparities are generally consistent with
The median household income for Fort Worth in 2016, in inflation-adjusted dollars, was $63,704 for Whites, but only $41,317 for African-Americans, and $44,748 for Hispanics. These disparities are generally consistent with national trends, although the earnings of minority households are higher in Fort Worth than in the nation as a whole.
Of the top 100 privately-owned firms in Tarrant County, 14 are owned by minorities, and 10 of those firms are located in Fort Worth. Six of the 10 Fort Worth firms are owned by Hispanics.
*Job training, transportation to jobs, background issues, and hiring process.
*Education and incentives to achieve wage parity.
*Capacity-building for minority-owned businesses.
Concerning education disparities, in the Fort Worth ISD, only 33 percent of all third-grade students were reading at grade level in 2016-17, compared to the statewide average of 44 percent. The percentage of third-grade students reading at grade level is 62 percent for whites, but only 32 percent for Hispanics and 20 percent for African-Americans.
The high school graduation rate in 2016 was 88 percent for whites, 85 percent for Hispanics, and 84 percent for African-Americans. The percentage of graduates classified as college-and-career-ready in 2016 was 84 percent for whites, 74 percent for Hispanics, and 67 percent for African-Americans.
Of all students suspended for disciplinary reasons in 2016-17, 55 percent were African-American, 37 percent were Hispanic, and 5 percent were white. By comparison, total student enrollment is 23 percent African-American, 62 percent Hispanic, and 11 percent white.
The Fort Worth ISD has 14 schools classified as “Improvement Required” by the Texas Education Agency, and all are located in minority neighborhoods.
Education recommendations include:
*Early childhood intervention via quality child care.
*Service learning and civic engagement.
*College and career centers.
The extent of governance disparities noted in the report includes only one of eight district representatives on the city council is Hispanic, whereas two are African-American and five are White. The report also stated that Hispanics have historically been under-represented on the city council.
Also, minorities represent:
*30 percent of the city’s board and commission members.
*29 percent of the city’s executives and managers.
*21 percent of the city’s firefighters. (only 1 percent are women)
Recommendations to address this include:
*Independent citizen redistricting commission.
*Mission of Human Relations Unit.
In health disparities, 40 percent of African-American adults in Tarrant County have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, versus 30 percent of all adults in the county. Corresponding figures are 25 percent for Hispanics and 31 percent for Whites.
Thirty-eight percent of African-American adults in Tarrant County have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, versus 30 percent of all adults in the county. Corresponding figures are 30 percent for Hispanics and 28 percent for whites.
Twenty-three percent of African-American adults in Tarrant County are experiencing confusion or memory loss that is increasing in frequency or worsening, versus 12 percent of all adults in the county. Corresponding figures are 6 percent for Hispanics and 11 percent for whites.
Of the African-American adults in Tarrant County, 16 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 11 percent of all adults in the county. Corresponding figures are 12 percent for Hispanics and 9 percent for whites.
The Tarrant County infant mortality is 9.6 African-American infant deaths per 1,000 live births were recorded in Tarrant County during 2015, versus 6.2 infant deaths per 1,000 overall. The figures for Hispanics and whites are 6.6 and 4.3 percent, respectively.
Recommendations for a solution include:
*Health education and outreach.
*Access to providers.
While 33 percent of all Fort Worth households pay over 30 percent of their gross income for housing, 45 percent of African-American households pay over 30 percent of their gross income on housing. An estimated 13,000 Fort Worth households live in overcrowded or substandard conditions, such as without a complete kitchen or plumbing. Of these, 59 percent are Hispanic.
Housing recommendations include:
*Affordable housing incentives policy.
*Resident awareness of housing resources.
In transportation disparities, majority minority areas (MMAs) of Fort Worth have 58 percent of street lane miles, but 77 percent of poor-condition streets; 50 percent of built sidewalks, but 81 percent of poor-condition sidewalks and 58% of network gaps; and 53 percent of installed street lights, but 66 percent of poor-condition street lights.
MMAs of Fort Worth have 57 percent of all households, but 77 percent of zero-car households.
Non-Anglo racial and ethnic groups comprise 58 percent of Fort Worth’s population, but 71 percent of local transit ridership at the time of the most recent on-board transit survey.
Sixty-nine percent of all pedestrian crashes and 79 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes occurred in MMAs from 2013 to 2017. During the same period, MMAs had 60 percent of all bike crashes and 86 percent of fatal bike crashes.
Since 2007, Fort Worth has funded approximately 20 percent of the street construction and reconstruction needs, only 10 percent of the estimated annual operating need for the transit system, less than 10 percent of the sidewalk needs, and roughly 1 percent of the bike infrastructure need.
Transportation recommendations include:
*Transportation equity policy and five-year action plan.
*Transportation funding criteria.
*After-action reviews of pedestrian and bicycle crashes.
*Dec. 11: Adopt resolution accepting task force findings and recommendations, and authorizing the city manager to proceed in implementing recommended strategies and actions.
*March 2019: Receive report from city manager on status of implementation, including provisions for a civilian oversight of the police department, an appointment of Charter Review Task Force to study feasibility and desirability of independent redistricting commission, reorganization of the Human Relations Unit, an assessment of disparities in municipal services, and the potential impact of all recommendations on the fiscal year 2020 budget.
*December 2019: Publish first annual progress report.
“What we don’t want to have happen in the next five years is to have this same conversation. We need to move forward,” Navejar said.