From the July 2020 GPA Newsletter
The GPA Board is deeply saddened by the recent unjust deaths of African American individuals in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Brunswick, and elsewhere. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, and others are not simply names in the news, but are people who have lost their lives. They leave behind grieving family and friends who are left fighting for justice, as well as the beginnings of a new civil rights movement. These recent events have reminded us that there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety, respect, and equality of everyone in our communities, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Planners are not law enforcement officers. However, our work deals with housing, public space, access to jobs, air quality, alternative modes of transportation, food deserts, and more. Simply put, planners have a great impact on the built environment and how it impacts people’s lives. As a profession, we should always work to serve communities in an inclusive and equitable manner. This must always be a deliberate effort that takes time and commitment.
As an initial step toward this goal, the Board created the GPA Diversity Committee in 2019. They have had a number of meetings, and had a session planned for our 2020 Spring Conference. Then the conference was cancelled due to the COVD-19 pandemic. But we still look forward to their session at this year’s virtual GPA Fall Conference, and we hope you will join us for that.
The Diversity Committee has also noted the lack of racial diversity in the planning profession and the benefits of having more planners who represent the communities they work in. To recruit more people of color to the planning profession, the committee is working with local organizations and planners to increase outreach to colleges and universities to let students know about the planning profession as a career option. Committee members had been working to identify opportunities for this past spring semester to speak to students at HBCUs. Again, COVID-19 has delayed, but not cancelled, this effort.
At the national level, the AICP Commission has been working for a few years on developing potential updates to the AICP CM requirements. A new mandatory credit on Equity is a part of these changes, all of which will begin either in 2021 or 2022.
There is still more work to be done as a profession to ensure that we operate in an inclusive, accessible, and equitable manner. If you would like to be a part of the conversation about how to do this, we encourage you to become an active member of the GPA Diversity Committee. If you are interested in joining, please contact the committee chair, Marilyn Hall. Also, if you have not already taken the GPA Membership Diversity Survey, we encourage you to do so.