Defining Racial Equity Planning

The intersections of racial equity, advocacy planning, social justice, and design inform many past and present urban planning practitioners and academics. Planners seeking to center social justice in their practice often do so using the lens of racial equity. But is there consensus around an explicit definition of racial equity planning? Recognizing a gap in our collective knowledge, a team of researchers reviewed seventeen geographically dispersed plans over a sixty years timeframe to better understand the strategies deployed to increase racial equity. In addition to a wide spatial variety the plans also varied in scale from federal, state, city, and community-driven initiatives. 

“The 21st century has focused a spotlight on debates about race in the US. We wanted to understand how and why has racial equity planning evolved in the academic planning literature and representative racial equity plans in the last 60 years,” says lead author and DUSP alum John Arroyo (PhD ‘18, MCP ‘10). “Racial equity planning has always been a cornerstone of the field, and lessons from the literature and relevant plans merit deeper attention, especially as White supremacy gains stronger ground.”

The team’s findings are available in their article, “Sixty Years of Racial Equity Planning: Evolution of an Ethic,” published in Journal of the American Planning Association. In addition to Arroyo, now an assistant professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (School of Social Sciences) and Chicanx and Latinx Studies (School of Arts and Humanities) at the University of California San Diego (formerly assistant professor at the the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon), additional authors include: University of Oregon’s Gerard Sandoval and Joanna Bernstein.


Read their full paper

Read Adin Becker’s blog post via the American Planning Association