No Data, No Justice

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Resolution signingToday, with the Mayor officially signing the resolution I sponsored, Seattle became the first city in the nation to adopt legislation on data disaggregation.

I’ve found that there’s no faster way for people’s eyes to glaze over than by using the term “data disaggregation.”  But at the recent iCount Symposium hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, ETS President Walt McDonald had a better take.  “No data, no justice,” he said.

He’s right. When you boil it down, data disaggregation is simply about making communities visible to their government, so that we can get them the resources they need.  And it’s particularly important for immigrants, refugees, and communities of color who are hidden in broad data categories.  No data, no justice.

Around the country, the data disaggregation movement is slowly starting to take shape.  California has recognized the need to disaggregate data, becoming the first state to disaggregate data into more than 20 categories for their very large Asian American and Pacific Islander population.  They are now able to collect data and target resources towards groups like the Hmong people whose needs are very different than, say, Bangladeshis or Samoans.

The state of Washington has also been moving towards disaggregating data.  Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos recently sponsored a data disaggregation bill after years of laying the groundwork in her committee.  New York is close behind with data disaggregation legislation in the pipeline in both the state legislature and the city council.

Seattle is at the forefront of the national movement, and the City has the opportunity to achieve racial equity and social justice through data.  Created by the resolution, the Demographic Data Task Force will form in the next couple of weeks, and its recommendations will serve as the basis for executive action next year.  One step closer to data disaggregation, one step closer to social justice.