Equity: The Case for Redlining the Term ‘Social’ and Getting Comfortable with ‘Racial’

10/29/2020 1:30 p.m. EDT

Session Type:  Education Session (1 hour)

Track: Equity and Inclusion


Why "racial," not "social" equity? While wealth is a major driver in outcomes, race is the stronger predictor. When studies control for income, racial disparities remain key factors in health, education, employment and incarceration. Racial equity strategies are currently a major focus of parks departments in large, diverse, urban cities. Parks departments — such as the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, New York City Parks, Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and Portland (Oregon) Parks and Recreation — are developing equity initiatives to ensure that their parks are focusing resources that best serve these changing demographics. Creating a racial equity strategy provides a framework, tools and resources that also can create social equity solutions. During this session, you will learn strategies for gathering the appropriate data to ensure that the predominant race and income of an area does not predict the quality and/or quantity of its parks, and that parks in diverse, low-income areas best reflect the community needs in that area.


Learning Outcomes:

Identify how studies have determined that race is the major driver of outcomes.

Discover how major park systems are changing to serve a more diverse demographic.



Jai Cole

Chief, Park Planning and Stewardship Division, M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks (Maryland)

Jai Cole has 20 years of experience in parks and recreation and is currently the chief of the Park Planning and Stewardship Division for M-NCPPC, Montgomery County Department of Parks in Maryland. Cole supervises natural resources, park and trail planning, natural surface trail implementation and cultural resource stewardship for the 38,000-acre, six-time NRPA Gold Medal Award-winning park system.

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