Seattle City Council, Position 9

Nikkita Oliver

Question

Black wealth remains near zero due to centuries of systemic anti-Black racism and is on a trajectory to only worsen. In Seattle, white wealth is nearly 20x more than Black wealth. What specific actions will you take to close the Black-white wealth gap?

  1. How much of the Black-white wealth gap will you close while in office? 

  2. Who are you working with in the Black community to close it? 

  3. How will you support investing federal funding directly and specifically into the Black community in the next two years?

Answer

As a Black resident of the Rainier Beach neighborhood and executive director of a Black-led  organization located in the Central District that serves predominantly Black, Native, and Pacific  Islander youth disproportionately impacted by the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline and  school exclusion, I know firsthand the impacts of systemic racism, anti-Blackness and resource  deprivation inflicted upon Black communities. 

As King County Equity Now is aware, I-200 is still a legal barrier to returning resources directly to  Black communities from public agencies. Nevertheless, I believe pursuit of reparations is key to  ending the racial wealth gap in King County. We can start by: 

  1. Distributing public resources to high-impact Black-led organizations who have demonstrated  authentic and accountable relationships with Black community members to provide services,  supports and cash assistance that meet needs that are unique to the Black community. 

  2. We know the Black community is disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration, the racial  wealth gap, the opportunity gap, displacement and gentrification, systemic oppression, anti blackness, and systemic resource deprivation and as a result we can target resources directly towards  key demographics, districts, or schools where we know specific inequities impact Black  communities. 

  3. Cannabis equity represents a major opportunity to begin the work of reparations. I wrote  KCEN’s cannabis equity demands during the summer of 2020 by building with experts like Joy  Hollingsworth, Aaron Bossett, cannabis workers, and impacted Black community members.  Alongside UFCW21, a union who has endorsed the Nikkita4Nine campaign, we intend to bring  legislation to the City to pursue equity in cannabis and redistribution of resources to Black  communities impacted by criminalization, weed and seed, and the war on drugs. 

  4. Participatory Budgeting (PB), while not without its challenges, presents an important opportunity.  The Black Brilliance Research project brought forward the voices of many Black community members with intersectional identities who typically are not involved in City government to  determine the priority investment areas for Participatory Budgeting. As long as I-200 remains a  barrier to direct investments in Black community, efforts like PB, which allow us to target  investments towards those priority areas as determined by Black community members, increase the  likelihood that more resources will flow directly to Black peoples in Seattle/King County. 

Additionally, I commit to advocating for and supporting efforts to overturn I-200 so that we can  make direct and explicit investments in Black communities. 

As a campaign, we are considering similar legislation to that which was passed in Evanston, Illinois.  Evanston is the first U.S. city to pay reparations to Black residents. They have thus far returned 

$400K to Black residents but intend to return $10 million in 10 years. Evanston City Council voted  8-1 to distribute $400k to eligible Black households. To be eligible, a household’s residents must  have either lived in or been direct descendants of a Black person who lived in Evanston between  1919 and 1969 and suffered discrimination in housing because of city ordiancs, policies or practices.  Eligible households receive $25,000 for home repairs and down payments on property. The program  is funded through a 3% tax on the sale of recreational cannabis. The Nikkita4Nine campaign is  exploring viable pathways for similar legislation to address the impacts of exclusionary zoning, red  lining, the war on drugs, and weed and seed in Seattle. 

It is suspected that there will be one more federal package that is targeted specifically for  infrastructure. It is expected to pass but the timing is still to be decided. If elected, I will take office  in January of 2022. Using the above strategies, given the previously described barriers of I-200, will  be key for ensuring that we can get as many resources as possible to the most impacted communities  which obviously includes the Black community. In regards to infrastructure, lots of commitments  have been made to predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods. We must prioritize  infrastructure in communities impacted by high rates of displacement first, Black communities,  working class communities, and other communities impacted by the racial wealth gap, a lack of  access to affordable housing, and who are cost burdened with rent and transit costs. 

While in office I will build with those Black-led organizations that are intersectional and demonstrate  a real commitment to ensuring City resources actually reach the most marginalized, disenfranchised,  and impacted Black residents.  

I think it is important to acknowledge that Black community is not monolithic. We are a diverse  community--gender, sexuality, religion, language, class, (dis)ability, history, lived experience, and  political views. This means the City should prioritize re-distributing a large amount of resources  amongst a diversity of Black-led organizations who have demonstrated authentic connectedness  with Black peoples, an understanding of and commitment to intersectionality, and who are able to redistribute resources to impacted intersectional Black communities without unnecessary  gatekeeping or problematic resource hoarding. 

I am working with and/or deeply connected to: 

Organizations - The Black Trans Task Force, Community Passageways, Choose 180, the Black Brilliance Research Project, the African American Health Board, the Black Action Coalition, Black  Education Now, Seattle Equity Educators, Labor for Black Lives, Africatown Community Land  Trust, the George Jackson Freedom Coalition, the Blaq Elephant Party, Kids are Kids, Rainier  Beach Action Coalition, Solidarity Budget, the Youth Consortium, Washington Ethnic Studies Now,  Black Power Unlimited/Hidmo Cipher Cafe 

Black Peoples Leading On Issues Impacting Black Community - Ayan Musse, KL Shannon, the  Queen Mother Dr. Mimms, Katrina Johnson, Coach Dom Davis, Sean Goode, Sade Smith, Ahkia  Rayne, Shaun Glaze, LeTania Severe, Jaelynn Scott, Ebo Barton, Davida Ingram, Jerrell Davis, Jesse  Hagopian, Zion Thomas, Heidi Jackson, Bana Abera 

Black Electeds - King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay, State Rep. Jesse Johnson, State Rep.  Kirsten Harris-Talley

Current Major Efforts - The Youth Achievement Center, Restorative Community Pathways, Safety Teams in Rainier Beach, Defend the Defund, Solidarity Budget 

This is not an exhaustive list. 

Next Candidate

Kim-Khanh Van

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