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Child Advocacy Group Wants Lawmakers To Picture Outcomes From 'Institutional Racism'

Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus
State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, speaks at an Illinois Legislative Black Caucus press conference.

The  Chicago-based child advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children wants Illinois lawmakers to consider how their policies might worsen racial and ethnic disparities.

According to a spokeswoman,  state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, is expected to introduce a measure that would create a “racial impact note” – where a lawmaker could ask for additional information tacked onto a bill that would estimate the impact on minorities.

They would be similar to fiscal notes that detail how a policy would affect the state’s finances.

Tasha Green Cruzat - Voices for Illinois Children President – says the law is needed to help correct years of unjust Illinois policies such as inequitable school funding and disparities in academic opportunities.

The Illinois House approved similar legislation last session with no opposition, but it never got a vote in the Senate.

”These policies have been ingrained and, we don't recognize them outright  because they're so embedded, and it's become a way of life, and we don't focus on fixing those inequities,’ Green Cruzat. “So, it's important that we take a big step in making sure that we address the the inequities that continue to exist

“I think in Illinois for very, very long time we've been focused so much on some of the things that I think are plaguing our state, such as our financial condition, I think that we get so embedded in those issues that we don't really focus on children and families  and particularly children of color.”

If approved, Green Cruzat said, such a law would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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