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Utah’s new racial equity compact embodies the spirit of Christmas

The compact can be summarized in a few words spoken by Jesus: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at the unveiling of the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It is fitting that the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion was announced and signed by hundreds of people during the Christmas season. The compact exemplifies the true spirit of Christmas, embracing the foremost teaching of Jesus Christ to “love one another.”

The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, many of them difficult and demoralizing. But I believe the release and signing of the compact is an historic highlight that has helped bring light and hope, that has lifted our souls in one of the most challenging years of our lives.

My hope is that the compact helps all of us to unify around basic principles of racial equity, diversity and inclusion, and commit (in our own ways) to meaningful action.

On this Christmas Eve, our thoughts turn to the hope and peace that I, personally, believe are possible through following the teachings of Jesus. The compact is comprised of 411 words. But it can all be summarized in a few words spoken by Jesus: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

And when Jesus was asked, “who is my neighbor?” he told the beloved story of the Good Samaritan, a poignant message that we are to nurture and love all of humanity, regardless of race, religion or station in life.

That is precisely the spirt of the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I am thrilled to see Utah, once again, coming together and providing leadership to address one of the most challenging issues facing our state and nation.

I have been energized by the response to the compact from businesses, nonprofits, religious groups, schools and universities, military units, chambers of commerce, media, foundations, government units and individuals who helped develop the compact.

These individuals and entities, and many more, have signed the compact, affirming “that all people are created equal under God” and pledging to “act and create a society in which race and ethnicity do not determine or limit value and life outcomes.” I encourage all Utahns to sign the compact. You can do so at the Utah Compact website.

Those signing the compact will commit to these five principles and actions:

  1. Acknowledgement and action — We acknowledge that racism exists, and our actions make a difference. We call out racism wherever we see it and take purposeful steps to stop it.
  2. Investment — We invest our time and resources to create greater opportunity for people of color. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities requires our significant effort and investment.
  3. Public policies and listening — We advance solutions to racial ills by listening and creating policies that provide equal opportunity and access to education, employment, housing and health care.
  4. Engagement — We engage to effect change. Broader engagement, equitable representation, and deeper connection across social, cultural, and racial lines will uphold the principle — “nothing about us, without us.”
  5. Movement, not a moment — Utahns unite behind a common goal to create equal opportunity. We affirm our commitment will not just be a passing moment, but a legacy movement of social, racial and economic justice.

I believe that we especially need to work, as stated in the compact, to provide “equal opportunity and access to education, employment, housing, and health care.” Such action will help solve many of our nation’s societal ills.

At the announcement of the compact, state Sen. Jani Iwamoto captured its essence: “Today, during the most unbelievable and trying times in our state, country, and world ... this is a moment — another positive and compassionate Utah moment — where we stand as a state, alongside our partners and say ‘no’ to racial inequities, disparities, and unequal opportunities, and ‘yes’ to a movement, collective and consciously toward racial justice.”

Jesus said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Merry Christmas to all!

A. Scott Anderson is CEO and president of Zions Bank.