Performative versus Authentic Equity Work: An Assessment of Current Practices in Transportation Planning

With the growth of attention to equity in transportation, there is a need to understand differing definitions of transportation equity and what constitutes impactful equity work. This report examines definitions and assesses equity work within transportation in California. We do this by analyzing the expert perspectives of 28 transportation professionals who also identify as Black or people of color. Interviews were transcribed and coded for major themes. Results indicated that there is tension around what constitutes meaningful transportation equity work. Key findings centered around a distinction between “performative” equity work and “authentic” equity work. Performative equity work privileges the comfort and perspective of dominant groups, reinforces the status quo, stays in the realm of the rhetoric, and often results in superficial changes only. Authentic equity work centers the experience of Black people and people of color, embraces discomfort, transforms dominant culture, and results in measurable changes to the lives of those historically oppressed. Key recommendations include supporting action-oriented equity work, especially around resource allocation and redistribution of decision-making power to communities. The paper includes visions for more equitable transportation futures.


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  • Accession Number: 01892884
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Sep 12 2023 9:10AM