Kettering, OH – In January 2021, The City of Kettering’s Board of Community Relations (BCR) conducted an online racial equity survey as a first step toward better understanding the perceptions of race relations in Kettering. Complete racial equity survey results are available for viewing at www.ketteringoh.org/board-of-community-relations.
Established by City Charter in 1969, the BCR is composed of community volunteers to promote and encourage the creation and maintenance of an inclusive community by fostering equal opportunities and respect for all people. During 2021, a proclamation was signed by Mayor and City Council stating: Kettering is home to people with varying backgrounds, incomes, religions, ethnicities, ages and experiences. It is a community that strives to be a welcoming, safe place where everyone feels valued. The City of Kettering denounces racism in all its forms. Beyond merely acknowledging the history and existence of racism in the United States, we continue to focus on strengthening equity in our local institutions, policies and programs. We affirm a commitment to anti-racism, fairness and justice for all of our citizens, neighbors and visitors.
The survey was open from January 11 to March 24, 2021, through online avenues, including the City of Kettering website and City of Kettering social media channels, and was publicized in the Dayton Daily News. It presented 16 questions regarding demographics, race relations, social networks and equal opportunity. Respondents were asked about their interactions with businesses and police, as well as access to jobs, education, health services and home buying opportunities.
This survey was intended and designed to assess perceptions of racism, not necessarily to determine the existence or extent of racial inequity.
“The distinction between these two goals cannot be overstated because perceptions do not always align with the lived experiences of others,” said Dr. Kristin Williams of NineteenEleven Consulting. Dr. Williams assessed data collected through the survey and compiled a report that includes key takeaways, a discussion of what remains unknown about race relations in Kettering, and recommendations for next steps that the BCR and City will consider.
In all, there were 544 respondents who participated in the survey. Most participants were between the ages of 36 and 45, and 53% of respondents were women. Kettering residents accounted for 77% of respondents.
The survey results affirm that, on average, respondents felt that race relations in Kettering are generally positive. Two-thirds (66%) worry ‘only a little’ or ‘not at all’ about race relations, while 32% worry a ‘fair amount’ or a ‘great deal.’ Respondents felt that residents are treated most equitably by the institution of Education, least equitably by Law Enforcement.
“The results of the survey suggest that Kettering is not unlike most U.S. cities in 2021” said Dr. Williams. “When it comes to perceptions about racism, there is little consensus.” She pointed out that survey respondents relied on varying definitions of racism and saw many social issues through a political lens.
It remains unclear how accurately the survey responses represent the views and attitudes of Kettering residents, how responses vary across racial groups, and how pervasive racial inequity may be.
Kettering City Council and City staff will use the survey results to continue working toward a more racially equitable environment. BCR will lead the charge with transparency, establishing and publishing a glossary of working definitions, and engaging community conversations about race, racism, and racial equity. Recommendations also include adopting a racial equity framework in the city, conducting staff training, as well as creating a diversity, equity and inclusion position. The City of Kettering and the BCR share the objective of ensuring that Kettering residents and businesspeople feel they are part of an inclusive, equitable community.
“While the protests against racial injustice in 2020 sparked conversations about race and racism across the country, many municipal governments have grappled with how to effectively engage on the topic,” said Dr. Williams. “The Kettering Racial Equity Survey marks one of the first attempts to start the dialogue between government representatives and their constituents.”
To review the unedited racial equity survey results as well as Dr. Williams’ assessment, please visit www.ketteringoh.org/board-of-community-relations.