West Side Lives

Darryl Johnson, 45, on bringing the 'equity lens' into focus

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By Michael Romain


I interviewed Austin native Darnell Johnson earlier this month for an article on his company Urban Efficiency Group and his attempts to promote equity in the green economy, where its rare to see Blacks in that sector's good-paying jobs that don't require college degrees.  

What didn't make that article was Johnson's insight into the upcoming presidential election and equity in the laws ostensibly designed to promote a green economy. 

On what's at stake in this election 

What they need are the resources to enable them to grow their staff to get more people to expand their reach and expand these opportunities. A Democratic administration would put a huge upswing in the resources, legislation and support that has been whittled away under this current administration, because they don't believe in Climate Change, which is a real thing that is affecting our community and our globe. 

In the first presidential debate, Joe Biden spoke specifically about putting more money into energy efficiency because it creates jobs. Well, the thing about creating jobs part is you need to drill down not hat to make sure there's an equity lens that applies to the equity creation and you need to make sure that lens is brought into focus. 

How do you bring that lens into focus? By talking to people like us who understand the challenges. We've been through the discrimination, we've been through the racism, we've been through being stonewalled and locked out.  

On the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, the 2017 law designed to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and job training in clean energy across the state.   

That legislation, while good in theory, the practical implementation of that wasn't as good as it was projected to be, because there wasn't an equity lens applied to have measurable outcomes. If we say we want to see more diversity, but you fail to say what are the benchmarks in achieving that — what does success look like — then you leave the market wide open for things to take the usual path or the usual course, ultimately leaving us out. 

How do we change that? We change it by making sure there are definitive measurements and outcomes that we are looking for. 

Email: michael@austinweeklynews.com Twitter: AustinWeeklyChi

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