Eliminating generational impacts of systemic disparities and preventing future harm
Every few years, our state government attempts to chip away at the deep structural racism and injustice embedded in our society. When I was in the legislature, I saw it every session. Advocates spend a year and a half demanding desperately needed changes, and their voices are drowned out by voice votes in committees sending their proposals to “study.” Through the tenacity of these advocates and the work of a few committed legislators, small pieces of these proposals end up in must-pass legislation sent to the Governor’s desk in the frenzied final hours of the session, with most of the truly transformative proposals stripped away.
Expecting that the current status quo culture of policy making in Beacon Hill will deliver on racial equity is expecting different results from the same old, same old. The Governor and other Beacon Hill insiders benefit from the current paradigm.
Too often in Massachusetts, policymaking starts with one question: what will State House leadership support? This approach is fundamentally insufficient. That is why this Racial Justice Action Plan for the Commonwealth is based on a different set of questions:
- What does racial justice in Massachusetts look like?
- Who needs to be in the room to build and steward this work?
- What does it mean for white people, and other communities of affluence and privilege, to co-deliver on equity for the Commonwealth?
That’s why our platform is grounded in the concrete recommendations of BIPOC communities and racial justice advocates. It’s grounded in cultural humility. That is why we are holding a series of amplification and feedback hubs around the state to elevate what is working already and to inform a more refined action plan that meets people’s aspirations and demands. I am committed to listening and learning throughout this campaign and throughout my time in office.
I will take a similar approach to my administration, which will empower and employ Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and multiracial residents at every level of government. I commit to hiring Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and multiracial candidates for at least 30% of positions in the state’s executive leadership, management, and boards and commissions, making our government fully representative of our state as a whole.
But the obligation to deliver racial justice in Massachusetts cannot fall exclusively on residents of color while white people sit on the sidelines. I know that I will get things wrong and leave things out. When I do, I ask that you tell me so I can improve. But I am in this fight. Now it is time to not just reflect but put to practice what racial justice means for Massachusetts. On this campaign, and as Governor, I will work with Black, Latino, Asian American, and Indigenous people to understand what racial justice means for Massachusetts on a statewide level. No community of color is a monolith—I want to use this campaign to inform my racial justice strategy for my time as Governor.
We have an immense opportunity in Massachusetts to not just give racial justice advocates and community leaders a seat at the table—but to pick up that table and bring it to the people. The work of getting stronger at the broken places starts with calling out systemic inequities and recognizing all of our individual brokenness. It starts with calling for an end to the status quo, and a new era for change and accountability on Beacon Hill. Together, we can further meaningful action on racial justice and recognize it as shared prosperity across the Commonwealth.
- The Wealth Gap
- Indigenous Rights
- Children, Youth, and Families
- Carceral Reform
- Equitable Legal Cannabis
- Equitable Participation in Government
- Join Us at our Feedback Hubs
The Wealth gap
Black and Latino households in metro Boston have far less household wealth than white households. This is the direct result of hundreds of years of local, state, and federal policy: the enslavement of Black Americans, Jim Crow, discriminatory housing policies and lending practices, mass incarceration, an inequitable tax system, and any of a thousand ways that governments have built systems to exclude Black and Latino families from the generational wealth many white families have accumulated.
But just as policy made this crisis, we can unmake it through policy. A Massachusetts with equitable access to wealth is possible, and communities have been fighting for racial and economic justice for as long as governments have built barriers to it. This plan won’t get us there on its own — I don’t have all of the answers — but I am committed both to immediate action using the full powers of state government and to deliberate planning with partners who have devoted themselves to this work.
As Governor, I will devote my administration to embedding racial justice in the structures and operations of state government, following policy recommendations proposed by the Black Mass Coalition. Many key steps for racial justice do not require legislative action, and in my first 100 days as Governor, I will:
- Direct all state and quasi-state agencies to award at least 10% of contracts to Black- and Indigenous-owned businesses, in alignment with the target set by the Black Mass Coalition. Currently, just 1% of state contracts go to Black-owned businesses.
- Work with state agencies and groups organizing for justice in Massachusetts to build a whole-of-government plan for equitable hiring practices, with a particular focus on rooting out hostile work environments that often drive staff of color out of state agencies.
In partnership with the legislature, I will:
- Divest state pension funds from the prison industrial complex and fossil fuels and build a community-led process for reinvestment, as recommended by the Black Mass Coalition, with a particular focus on investment in businesses owned and operated by Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Asian owners in Massachusetts.
- Advocate for and sign legislation to create a public bank.
- Fund skill training and small business technical assistance and direct state support to anchor institutions who shift spending away from external sources and towards community employers, with a focus on Black- and Brown-owned businesses and special consideration for those who prioritize worker ownership and community wealth building. I made this commitment in my plan for Economic Equity in Massachusetts, and I see economic development as a vital part of building racial justice.
- Push for a commission to study reparations for the harm done by racist policies in Massachusetts, using federal HR 40 as a model. This is not a topic on which I have all of the answers, and I am eager to work with advocates, communities, and colleagues on it. The harms of systemic racism in Massachusetts demand concrete material restitution, and I am committed to pursuing it wherever possible.
Racism is one of the defining public health crises of our time, and its consequences for Massachusetts residents of color — and for Black residents in particular — are a matter of life and death. Black Massachusetts residents face higher rates of premature mortality than members of other racial groups, and health equity in Massachusetts requires a focused effort to end racism in our medical system, in the concentration of environmental harms, and in every area of public policy. To mobilize such a response, I will:
- Declare racism a public health emergency in Massachusetts. Such a declaration will lay the groundwork for our whole-of-government approach to building racial justice, and when COVID-19 has only exacerbated the shameful gap in premature death and other health outcomes on the basis of race in Massachusetts, it is essential that we reckon with the scale and scope of the crisis.
Nowhere is this health disparity clearer than on Black maternal health. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Black women and women of color are also at a higher risk of suffering from pregnancy-related medical complications.
- As Governor, I will act swiftly to review and implement favorable recommendations from the legislature’s new commission on racial disparities in maternal health, with particular focus on supporting pipelines for physicians, doulas, and other healthcare providers who are people of color.
Our public health crisis in mental health is a racial justice issue in Massachusetts and across the country, and it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Black, Latino, and Indigenous people experience adverse mental and behavioral health symptoms, including suicidal ideation, at far higher rates than white people, and racial justice in Massachusetts must include mental health justice, including safe access to treatment and care in a system that has often been discriminatory and dangerous for people of color.
Improving our state’s emergency mental health response system is an essential part of achieving racial justice. Many instances of police violence in Massachusetts begin when communities turn to police to address mental health crises, and as Governor, I will work to build a viable alternative in all 351 cities and towns. To get there, I will:
- Triple funding for the state’s mental health Emergency Services Program to improve response times and reliability in every region and make the ESP a viable alternative response option. When a family member is in crisis, you should be able to access clinical support on an emergency basis, just as you can call the fire department.
- Establish a three-digit hotline to access the Emergency Services Program from anywhere in the state.
- Build a state grant program to support local community-driven non-police response initiatives like those in Lynn and Cambridge.
We must also make inclusive mental health treatment readily accessible wherever and whenever it is needed. My administration will work with the legislature to:
- Increase funding for public school districts in Massachusetts to hire school counselors and social workers and establish recruitment best practices for hiring clinicians of color.
- Partner with mental health licensing authorities to establish policies and procedures for cross-state telehealth care, making it easier for Massachusetts residents to find providers who share their cultural background and have the clinical specializations they need even if providers aren’t available in Massachusetts.
- Build the pipeline for mental health providers of color by funding clinical placement programs in Massachusetts community health centers, with a focus on recruiting providers from programs at HBCUs.
Recognizing the intersectionality of racial justice and disproportionate harm aimed at LGBTQI+ folks, I support the work of Black and Pink MA and many of their legislative priorities. I will fight for and sign:
- Bills to improve care and access for incarcerated people living with HIV.
- Legislation to the end to profiling of transgender people and low-income women.
- The repeal of anti-sodomy laws.
Disabled people face daily struggles due to widespread refusal to develop accessible modes of enjoying public life. Compounded by structural racism, disabled people of color are more likely to have inadequate housing, healthcare, and employment than their white counterparts. Fifty years following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we still have far to go to make Massachusetts an accessible and welcoming place for people with disabilities. As Governor, I will fight for:
- Key policy reforms and initiatives prioritized by the Disability Policy Consortium. This includes proposed legislation that would protect the homes of seniors and disabled people on MassHealth and expand wheelchair warranty protections for consumers with disabilities. I am also in support of legislation that aims to eradicate discrimination in both healthcare and family and juvenile court proceedings.
We cannot afford to treat immigration justice as a purely federal issue when there are real steps that we can take on the state level to make Massachusetts safer and more welcoming to all of our residents. We cannot build true racial equity in Massachusetts without immigration justice.
- Immigration enforcement has no place in state or local government in Massachusetts; immediately upon taking office, I will instruct state agencies to discontinue their contracts with ICE; it is shameful that we use state resources to sow fear in our communities and break up families and communities across Massachusetts, and only by ending these collaborations can we start to rebuild trust in state government. I will also work with the legislature to pass the Safe Communities Act as a matter of urgency, preventing future state and local law enforcement agencies from engaging in immigration enforcement.
- I will work with the legislature to remove immigration status as a barrier for obtaining drivers’ licenses. Every resident of Massachusetts is safer when we can all obtain appropriate licensing and drivers’ education before getting behind the wheel.
- For decades, the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (“MIRA”) and other advocates have been fighting for tuition equity, granting in-state tuition to all graduates of Massachusetts high schools regardless of immigration status. As a state senator, I advocated and voted for this. As Governor, I will work with the legislature to enact legislation that ends our discriminatory treatment of undocumented students in setting tuition.
Throughout my term as Governor, I will look to MIRA and other advocates as a guiding light on immigration justice. My administration will be committed to listening and learning, and will take every opportunity to build justice for immigrant communities.
It must be understood that the Massachusetts government and its colonial predecessors committed genocide against Indigenous communities in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts’ legal system laid the groundwork for the theft of land from Native Americans across the U.S. This crime is not just confined to our distant past; Indigenous communities in Massachusetts still face threats to land, language, and culture.
I support all five pillars of the Massachusetts Indigenous Agenda. As Governor, I will advocate for and sign legislation to:
- Change the state’s seal and motto and mandate the removal of offensive Indigenous mascots at public schools.
- Establish Indigenous People’s Day.
- Improve educational outcomes and opportunities for Indigenous youth. I specifically support legislation filed by Nika Elugardo this term to achieve this.
- Teach Indigenous culture and history in Massachusetts public schools.
- Protect Indigenous funerary objects from sale for profit.
State government must also honor and respect the sovereignty of Indigenous nations within Massachusetts. I was heartened that the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe successfully fought the Trump administration’s challenge to their sovereign authority, but this trespass served as a solemn reminder of the threats against Indigenous sovereignty every day. As Governor, I will work with Nipmuc and Wampanoag leaders as equal partners in government and devote my administration to protecting Indigenous sovereignty.
Children, Youth, and Families
Black and Latino families have been devastated by a child welfare system in Massachusetts that targets communities of color. While only 19% of children in Massachusetts are Hispanic, 33% of children in the child welfare system are Hispanic, and while just 9% of children in Massachusetts are Black, 13% of children in the child welfare system are Black. Countless studies indicate that parents/guardians of color are no more likely to abuse their children than are white parents/guardians – but Black and Latino families are disproportionately investigated for child maltreatment and abuse. Reforming our state’s child welfare system is an essential element of achieving racial justice in Massachusetts.
- As Governor, I will fight for S.139/H.228, which aims to mitigate implicit bias in Massachusetts’ children-facing services. I will also direct all DCF branches in Massachusetts to redact identifiers that may trigger implicit bias – including race, ethnicity, name, and address – from case files before they are viewed by DCF staff. Implicit bias in our child welfare system has systematically torn Black and Latino families apart. No executive order or resolution condemning racism can fully eradicate implicit bias, but by removing the identifiers that trigger it from the equation, we can mitigate the devastating effects it has had on Black and Brown children and families in Massachusetts.
- As Governor, I will create alternative avenues through which mandated reporters can help victims of neglect and revise regulations to allow mandated reporters to offer referrals for help — by, for example, connecting the family of a hungry child with a food program — rather than direct referrals to DCF. Close to 90% of the child maltreatment cases handled by DCF in Massachusetts are cases of neglect, rather than abuse. Current Massachusetts law holds that mandated reporters — including teachers, care providers, and police officers — must report cases of neglect directly to DCF. Neglect is directly linked to poverty, and this requirement removes many of the avenues through which parents can seek help, and effectively targets and punishes poor families of color in doing so. This requirement does not make children safer, and my administration would put resources, rather than reporting, at the center of our child welfare approach.
- As Governor, I will reverse a harmful Baker administration policy approach that has moved DCF offices out of many Gateway Cities and into suburbs. I will instruct DCAMM to locate DCF facilities only in neighborhoods where they can be accessed by public transportation. Relocating offices away from communities of color exacerbates the harms of removing children from their homes, requiring parents to make long trips for each visit or making visits nearly impossible for some parents without vehicle access. Small short-term cost savings for state agencies are not worth the cost for families.
With a focus on youth development, achievement, and success, I will also increase state funding to create year-round youth job programs, grants, and opportunities. My Administration will also prioritize preventing youth violence through partnership between community-based agencies and diversion program coordinators.
- As Governor, I will follow the lead of nine other states to limit exclusionary punishment such as expulsion and suspension in schools. Suspension and expulsion actions disproportionately both Indigenous students and students of color in Massachusetts, and directly fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. Expulsion should not be the go-to solution for schools who are unable to meet the needs of their students. Exclusionary punishment disproportionately affects our students of color, and does little to solve the core issues that students face. By limiting exclusionary punishment to violent and dangerous behavior, and implementing a restorative justice discipline program in its place, we can better serve the needs of young people in Massachusetts.
Housing justice is racial justice. Displacement shatters communities of color across the state, entrenched residential segregation has long locked most Black and Latino residents out of many Massachusetts communities — first with explicit racial restrictions and now with housing policies that lock in high costs and make home-buying inaccessible in the face of our racial wealth gap, and unhoused residents are disproportionately Black, Latino, and Indigenous. Our housing crisis is one of the defining issues facing our state and I will be releasing my full housing plan in the coming months, but a few top-line commitments are particularly important for racial justice. As Governor, I will:
- Advocate for and sign legislation repealing the ban on rent control in Massachusetts, using legislation proposed by Reps. Elugardo and Connolly as a roadmap. When Massachusetts voters adopted the ban on rent control, communities of color in Boston, Cambridge, Springfield, Holyoke, Lawrence, and across the state voted to keep rent control in place. Since then, the ban has prevented municipalities from adopting vital tenant protections and other anti-displacement measures. My administration will make repealing it a cornerstone of our housing plan. I would also fight for legislation to create local options for Tenant Opportunity to Purchase legislation and real estate transfer fees to fund affordable housing.
- Fund statewide audit studies to crack down on discrimination against housing voucher holders on the basis of race or source of income. Black and Latino families seeking to use vouchers face illegal discrimination across Massachusetts, and some lose their vouchers as a result. State government must enforce our existing anti-discrimination laws. I will also instruct DHCD to adopt small-area fair market rents (as recently adopted in Cambridge and Boston) for its housing vouchers, broadening the set of communities in which these vouchers can be used.
- Increase permanent funding for RAFT, EA, and other programs aimed at preventing homelessness in Massachusetts and rehousing unhoused residents. Massachusetts should be a Housing First state, and safe and stable housing is a human right.
- Advocate for and sign legislation to end discriminatory zoning barriers against affordable housing. I specifically support legislation introduced by Sen. Chang-Díaz and Rep. Barber this session to promote fair housing through prohibitions on discriminatory land use restrictions aimed at blocking affordable housing.
These four policies are each vital for racial justice in housing in Massachusetts, but they are each small in comparison to the scope of the problem we face. That’s why I will be rolling out a housing justice plan to address the full spectrum of the housing crisis. We cannot achieve racial justice in housing without creating dramatically more housing at all income levels, making a comprehensive statewide investment in rental assistance, ending discriminatory exclusionary zoning, and making housing a fundamental human right in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts currently has the highest disparities in incarceration for Latino individuals in the country. Despite making up 7% of the total population, Black individuals make up 26% of the incarcerated population. When we incarcerate communities of color at rates disproportionate to that of white people—it makes reform an essential component of tackling racial justice. I will release a standalone plan on Public Health & Community Policing, but I will prioritize a number of key action steps in thinking about racial justice at the state level. As Governor, I will:
- Commit that Massachusetts will not build any new prisons during my administration. I will veto any spending bills that include funding for new prisons.
- Work with advocates to write a Bill of Rights for Incarcerated Residents — including but not limited to free phone calls, the right to voting information and absentee ballots, and the right to physically handle mail — and enforce it in every Massachusetts prison.
- Require all state and county prisons to create re-entry plans for all inmates at least six months before their date of release.
- Permanently eliminate all medical copays in prisons, making the pandemic-driven payment freeze permanent.
- Work with coalition leaders — including Families for Justice as Healing and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls — to identify clemency opportunities for women who are aging, sick, or survivors of sexual violence, and women who have served decades of time already.
- Prioritize oversight and accountability of correctional facilities—specifically by ensuring the independent ombudsman position is filled with a full vetting process that folds in both the attorney general’s office and key advocates. I will also call on the legislature to initiate a formal oversight hearing into the events at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in January 2020. The 118 allegations of excessive force lodged by men over that six-week period only make clear the dire need for uniform standards of force, increased transparency, and true independent oversight of prisons in Massachusetts.
- Follow the legislative mandate relative to COVID-19 pandemic response by releasing people who may be safely released in the interest of public health and ensure proper community input and vetting on the appointment of an independent ombudsman for the Department of Corrections.
Dismantling the War on Drugs
According to the most recent annual DOC report, 648 people are currently serving sentences for non-violent drug offenses in Massachusetts prisons. Our state is not immune to the disproportionate policing, arresting, and incarceration of people of color due to the war on drugs.
As we work to infuse equity into the legal cannabis industry in Massachusetts, we must also harness the power of executive pardons and expungement in mitigating the harm of a racist War on Drugs. As Governor, I will:
- Initiate robust case review for incarcerated persons serving sentences for a marijuana offense. Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts — voters overwhelmingly legalized it, I have used it recreationally, and people who look like me are already making millions of dollars off of it. It is unconscionable for our state prisons to incarcerate people — a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Brown — for decades-old marijuana offenses. Governor Baker has not used his clemency powers even once, but I will not shirk this solemn responsibility of the Governor’s office.
- Support and sign into law legislation allowing for the automatic expungement and sealing of past marijuana convictions and records.
I am also supportive of legislation introduced by Rep. Miranda and Rep. Connolly that addresses harm reduction and racial justice by decriminalizing drug possession as enumerated under Chapter 94C. While I am still learning about this issue, I am committed to working with advocates on this issue and approaching substance abuse. Addiction in Massachusetts is a matter of public health, not an issue for the carceral system, and my administration would treat it as such.
Each year, thousands of children and teenagers become involved with the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts. While youth of color make up about 33% of the youth population in Massachusetts, they are just under 40% of those arrested, 60% of those arraigned, and 68% of those committed to the Department of Youth Services (DYS). Aiming diversion programming at juveniles who become involved with the system is a key opportunity to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, address underlying issues of poverty, and offer mental health services to at-risk youth. As Governor, I will:
- Shift juveniles out of the adult prison system by: (1) raising the upper age in delinquency and youthful offender (“Y.O.”) cases to include 18, 19, and 20 year olds, and (2) expanding the upper age of commitment to DYS for emerging adults (18-20) from 21 to 23. Both of these would allow for an adequate window of opportunity to support youth with rehabilitative services and further prevent them from entering the adult system.
- Create a state-level framework for juvenile diversion programs—or “off ramps”—run by district attorneys’ offices, youth courts, and police. In 2017, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office launched the Juvenile Alternative Resolution (“JAR”) program with community-based agencies to provide individualized services to young people as an alternative to prosecution. Taking cues from work done by the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Policy Board, I will (1) double funding for juvenile diversion in the state budget, (2) create diversion coordinator positions across the state, (2) implement a common scheme of diversion policies and procedures, (3) implement reforms ensuring that diversion programming is not part of a youth’s court record or used against them in future legal matters, and (4) launch a working group tasked with identifying gaps and barriers in the juvenile justice system relative to diversionary programs across the state.
- Widen the universe of data collected for young residents involved in the system beyond recidivism to include key health and education outcomes
Restorative justice is a philosophy, a methodology, and a movement aimed at fostering dialogue, repair, and healing for all parties impacted by conflict and interpersonal harm. We must prioritize an individualized approach to rehabilitation that centers deep listening, healing, and meditative models of therapy and trauma response. Across the country, states and communities have had wide success in implementing restorative justice practices to create more just and constructive resolutions to low-level offences for all parties involved. Restorative justice practices have been shown to reduce recidivism rates while reducing the long-term harm that can result from criminal records for nonviolent crimes. The Downing Administration will commit to implementing restorative justice practices in the Massachusetts legal and education systems through:
- Creating a restorative justice discipline guideline for Massachusetts schools, working to end the school to prison pipeline.
- Creating a Massachusetts Youth Restorative Justice Fund to support pilot programs to divert youth from the criminal justice system, including restorative justice practices such as victim/defendant conferences, community conferences on substance abuse, or other practices.
- Creating a Massachusetts Restorative Justice Taskforce, tasked with designing pilot programs for diversion from the criminal justice system for low-level offences. The taskforce will design a training program for Restorative Justice practices facilitators who will be prepared to mediate victim/defendant conferences, lead community group conferences, Neighborhood Courts, and other potential practices. The taskforce will submit an annual report on the progress and outcomes of restorative justice programs across the state.
- Fostering strategic partnerships with organizations and community-based agencies like Communities for Restorative Justice, Transformational Prison Project, Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development at UMass Boston in policymaking on all issues relative to carceral reform and restorative justice.
Equitable Legal Cannabis
In 2021 alone, recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts are on pace to exceed $1.2 billion and reach as much as $2.6 billion by 2025. This comes after decades of discriminatory drug enforcement which has had lasting and devastating impacts on our communities of color. In 2014, Black people in Massachusetts were 7.1 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana sales than white people. And yet, in 2019 only 1.2% of cannabis businesses in Massachusetts were minority-owned operations. Now that Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, we must ensure that those historically harmed by the era of criminalization have access to opportunity within this lucrative industry. The Downing Administration will take steps to ensure an equitable legal cannabis industry by:
- Reforming cannabis revenue spending and ensuring that these funds are used to promote an equitable cannabis industry and to invest in communities of color. The Cannabis Control Commission shall prepare an annual report on the use of cannabis tax revenue, detailing outcomes relating to increasing equity in the cannabis industry and supporting communities historically harmed by cannabis prohibition. My administration will specifically ensure that excise tax revenue is directed to:
- Creating generational wealth in black and brown communities: 35% of funds from cannabis tax revenue will be used to fund community grants investments into neighborhoods disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs
- A Massachusetts Cannabis Business Development Fund: 35% of cannabis tax revenue shall be distributed by the fund in the form of grants to support equity applicant-owned cannabis businesses, internship programs for pipelines with future leadership in companies, and
- We will also look into apportionment of sales tax revenue into the General Fund, and prioritize funding for state education funding—including Chapter 70 funding and expedited implementation of the Student Opportunity Act—and re-entry programming for formerly incarcerated folks.
- Following New York’s lead in ensuring that no less than fifty percent of new marijuana licenses are reserved for social and economic equity applicants, defined as communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition, as well as minority and women-owned businesses, disabled veterans, and financially distressed farmers.
- Ensuring more state oversight over host community agreements (HCAs) and spending of community impact fees by host communities. Our current system of host community agreements has resulted in barriers to entry for minority cannabis business owners through a lack of state oversight and exorbitant fees charged by host communities. My administration will support proposed legislation to cap community impact fees at 3% of revenue and ensure greater oversight of HCAs by the Cannabis Control Commission.
- Working with advocates and the Cannabis Control Commission to ensure adequate resources and programming for current or aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs of color on information relative to capital raising, application processes, and protections around predatory partnerships in the marketplace.
When I announced my Climate Policy at the beginning of this campaign, I wrote that Black and Brown residents of Massachusetts have borne a disproportionate burden of environmental harm and fossil fuel use for decades, and that these harms will only accelerate in the coming years unless we embed racial justice throughout our environmental policy. This means that in my administration, every portion of our state’s environmental policy will seek to build racial justice, from matters of environmental justice (“EJ”) and air quality to our clean energy policy to how we adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. As governor, I will:
- Require that half of all state climate spending directly benefit environmental justice communities. This commitment formed a cornerstone of my climate policy, and it will help secure funding for a Massachusetts Civilian Climate Corps, regional EJ outreach teams, brownfields/toxic remediation in EJ communities, and dozens of other key priorities across the state.
- Create a process for cumulative review of the impact of new air pollution in environmental justice communities, rather than reviewing the environmental justice impact of each project separately. It shouldn’t have taken months of community pressure for Governor Baker to back down on putting a wood-burning power plant in Springfield, once the asthma capital of the United States. Embedded environmental justice review would prevent polluting uses in the Environmental Justice communities that face a crisis of asthma and air pollution.
- Work with community leaders and advocates to write a Racial Justice and Climate Adaptation plan. We have already seen the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on communities of color, and these effects are poised to accelerate in the next decade. We need a shared vision for equitable adaptation to address the effects of flooding, heat, and extreme weather, and we simply cannot afford another four years of inaction.
Equitable Participation in Government
Massachusetts cannot achieve racial justice until every resident can participate in government and democracy in the language in which they are most comfortable. Language is essential to the life, health, and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, and as we saw during the pandemic, state agencies under the Baker administration have fallen short on its most basic elements, including by failing to provide translation on applications for unemployment insurance in the first several months of the pandemic. My administration will:
- Create a language justice ombuds to audit state government on language access, work with community advocates to identify shortcomings in state government, and implement reforms. This office will work with every state agency and coordinate translation services on public documents, employing community-based translation providers in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Cape Verdean Creole, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and other commonly spoken languages in Massachusetts.
- Advocate for and sign the Language Access and Inclusion Act sponsored by Reps. Madaro and González and Sen. DiDomenico. This bill has been endorsed by MIRA, and would require state agencies to build language access plans for the communities they serve and pass other vital language justice reforms.
- Create a program of municipal grants to support local initiatives in language justice in school systems and city and town governments.
Join Us at our Feedback Hubs
This Action Plan represents my commitment to racial justice in Massachusetts, but it’s important to note that this is not “my plan for racial justice.” Racial justice in Massachusetts will not be achieved from behind a desk or through a grand vision by any Governor; it will be won by advocates and communities fighting for it. That is why concrete commitments to asks from advocacy groups played such a central role in this plan. As Governor, I will be accountable to people who have devoted their lives to the fight for racial justice and to the communities I am elected to serve, and I will use the powers of the office to deliver on my commitments to them.
That is also why this plan is fundamentally unfinished — it is not complete until I hear from you. I am holding Feedback Hubs across the state this month, and I will revise this document to reflect new commitments I make during these meetings. I hope to see you there.