The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Jesse Johnson

Achieving racial equity will take everyone’s help, couple says

Sarah Shumard Staff Reporter Jan 28, 2021

All people need to come together to help with racial equality, two speakers said here last week.

State Rep. Jesse Johnson, D-Federal Way, and his wife, health care professional Epiphany Johnson, talked about racial equality as part of Marin Luther King Week, Highline’s annual exploration of the work of late civil rights leader.

“How are we developing these broadly so that it’s everyone together, working together so that we can achieve a common goal?” Rep. Johnson asked.

Epiphany Nick Johnson

The Johnsons listed five steps to get a broader understanding on racial inequality and solving it.

Step 1: Examine the ways in which people have perpetuated the broader system of racial inequality.

“We have to begin to address these comments that are being made every day in our institutions,” said Rep. Johnson.

Step 2: Understand the concept of intersectionality in the struggle for racial equality.

“An induvial can have multiple identities and because of these multiple identities, they can face multiple isms (homophobia, racism, transphobia, sexism, etc.) and that will impact their life,” said Epiphany Johnson.

Step 3: Reach out to marginalized groups to learn and strengthen community engagement.

“It starts with bring folks who are most marginalized to the table and then understanding how they’re affected by the policies we’re discussing and how our decisions worsen this existing verity,” said Rep. Johnson.

“For the first time in our legislators history were adding pronouns to bills,” said Rep. Johnson.

Step 4: Uplift and empower community capital.

“The best inside of you can be lifted up along with everyone else and whatever gifts you have to give to your community, try to somehow insure you’re providing those gifts to others,” said Rep. Johnson.

“Pouring something out of yourself that others can be enhanced and others are pouring into you, is we begin to build our own version of capitol,” he said.

Step 5: Build political will to advocate for equality-based policy at the local, state, and national levels.

“So what we need to continue to do is say, “Hey, I think this is the right thing to do to help these communities that are dying at population rates when they should be living and what I’m going to do is disrupt at the local level and then at the school level and then I’m going to work with policy makers to make differences in the state policy and moving to national levels,” he said. “It’s all starting and going within ourselves.”