The Color of Representation
When elected officials are not as diverse as the community they serve, the voices and interests of people of color are not adequately considered when decisions are made. National attention was brought to this problem in Ferguson, Missouri, where the mayor, police chief, municipal judge, majority of the police force, and 5 of 6 city council members were all white, despite Ferguson’s population being 67% Black. Such a severe underrepresentation of Ferguson’s Black community contributed to racially discriminatory policing practices, investigated in the wake of the killing of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown in August 2014.
Local governments are often understudied, but can have a huge impact on the daily lives of
their citizens, especially communities of color. For example, their decisions can affect whether:
· A community is integrated
· Public resources are equally distributed throughout the city
· Public employees include people of color
· Schools disproportionately suspend and expel Black students
· Minority owned businesses can thrive
· People of color’s right to vote is burdened
The Color of Representation is the first comprehensive investigation into minority representation in local governments in Illinois.