Green paintbrush strokes "We are a country founded on the genocide of one people and the enslavement of another.  We have yet to reconcile the impact of this inheritance on us all.

“The experiment of America is 246 years old. In these 246 years, systems were designed that isolate and separate us, that empower a chosen few with the privilege of invention, innovation, and creativity, that lay the groundwork for misunderstanding, fear, and ultimately hate.

“Racism and inequity are products of design. They can be redesigned." 

From “Racism and inequity are products of design. They can be redesigned.” by equityXdesign, Nov. 15, 2016.

Government institutions have earned their reputation as bureaucratic machines that work, in general, to maintain the status quo. Rarely have government settings been places of radical change and innovation. 

Throughout the history of this country, all levels of government, including local governments, have created, contributed to, and upheld the inequities and harms of systemic racism — Multnomah County included. Accordingly, changing the priorities and operations of government institutions holds the potential of making direct and significant impacts on our communities, especially Black, Indigenous and other communities of color who bear the disproportionate harms of systems designed to marginalize and oppress them.

The Multnomah Idea Lab's (MIL's) unique position within the government gives us access to connections and levers that others do not have, to address and reverse the harms of systemic racism. It also gives us opportunities to co-create practices and policies using a Racial Justice and Equity lens and make direct impact.

Our expertise in navigating government bureaucracy is one of our superpowers. We aim for achieving outcomes in the long term, understanding that navigating short-term outcomes and roadblocks are often necessary parts of the process to make lasting, systemic change. And as we do our work, we practice revolutionary love for ourselves and others for perseverance.

That’s the purpose of the MIL and our staff: to intentionally work within the government to eliminate the structure of white supremacy in order to redesign our collective future.

To learn more about systemic racism, white supremacy culture and their intersection with the work of the MIL, we suggest two readings: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun. While these works are written by white authors, we acknowledge that these works are largely built on the labor of many BIPOC writers and thinkers who may or may not have been acknowledged by the authors.