Inherent racism

‘Resist Trump’ racial equity program pockets more than $275k from MN taxpayers.

Minnesota cities, counties and state agencies have spent more than $275,000 in taxpayer funds on a provocative racial equity program led by a national leftwing advocacy group that urges local governments to “resist Trump” and bases its training for public employees on the premise that government institutions and workers are inherently racist, whether they realize it or not.

“The Alliance leads with race, with the recognition that the creation and perpetuation of racial inequities has been baked into government,” according to the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) website. “From the inception of our country, government at the local, regional, state and federal level has played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequity.”

The organization’s newsletter features hot button headlines like “3 ways Local Government Can Heed MLK and Resist Trump” and “Actions Local Jurisdictions Can Take to Protect Immigrants and Refugees.”

Discrimination may be illegal, “but ‘neutral’ policies and practices perpetuate inequity,” according to GARE’s instructional materials, implicitly rejecting a colorblind approach to race relations. GARE aims to “move beyond ‘services’ and focus on changing policies, institutions and structures.”

GARE appears to have a firmer foothold in Minnesota than any other state. Some 18 cities, three counties, five local governmental units and various state agencies have participated in GARE racial equity training in the last two years, all from the metro area, except for Duluth, Mankato and Red Wing.

An American Experiment survey found the cost to taxpayers varies, depending on staff participation. Ramsey County ($58,100), the Met Council ($25,175) and St. Louis Park ($20,300) rank as the top spenders among counties, government agencies and cities, respectively.

One glaring example of GARE’s influence on public policy: the Met Council’s racial toolkit tied to millions of dollars in park grants.

“Missing from the throngs of visitors were people of color in numbers proportional to their share of the region’s total population,” according to the Met Council website. “The shortfall is especially significant for recent immigrants to the Twin Cities area. In the future, the disparity may widen. People of color are expected to make up 40 percent of the region’s population by 2040, compared to 24 percent in 2010.”

But at least one metro area government, suburban Dakota County, has announced staff will opt out of the controversial training next year, following an American Experiment inquiry about the program. Dakota County paid $10,200 to enroll 12 staff members in the program in 2017.

“We will not be using GARE to assist us in this work next year, but will leverage our internal capacity and will evaluate use of other vendors where we need additional assistance,” said Matt Smith, Dakota County Manager, in a statement to American Experiment.

In fact, Dakota County’s “bio” appears to have been scrubbed from the GARE website. But the organization’s newsletter still has an online reference characterizing Dakota County government as a place where “more often than not, consciously or unconsciously, policies have benefited white communities while limiting opportunities and outcomes for communities of color.”

“We recognized the need for training and we went out and got it,” Smith said in an interview. “We started to understand a little bit later that there was some other baggage that came with that, that in our case at least certainly would make it more difficult to achieve the goals that we wanted to internally. So that caused us to reassess.”

Nevertheless, more than 30 local Minnesota governments and state and local agencies have participated in the provocative program to date, including the office of Governor Mark Dayton.

American Experiment intern Joshua Kavanagh assisted in compiling this report.