How does the Clark County Council think it’s going to have any meaningful change to systemic racism in the county if it can’t even identify that they set up their “listening” sessions in a way that promotes and maintains the very deep seated, status quo, white racial oppression of people of color that is so pervasive in our county and across the U.S.
The fact that neither the all-white council nor the white moderator (who has what appears to be limited, if any, education much less experience in antiracist work) could see that the entire structure of these sessions were set up for power inequity; from the whites with power (Council) dictating the schedule, agenda, definitions, ground rules, and even the resources that people viewing should review, to the white solidarity rallying to restore stasis of the chairwoman’s hurt feelings after hearing the truth that denial is the heartbeat of racism, to admonishing a presenter to “keep (his) eye on the problem,” and also Councilman Medvigy’s questioning the validity of factual evidence, that the council asked the presenters to give, because he had personally never heard or seen it before.
This is the epitome of systemic racism in our county and if any of the council members or the moderator understood this or their individual roles in perpetuating racism (systemic and otherwise), they certainly didn’t acknowledge it, which makes them complicit in its stronghold in our local government. All it showed is that the council only wanted to “listen” and hear information that didn’t disrupt or challenge their white fragility.
If the Clark County Council truly wants to listen and learn, and better yet start down the road of challenging and repairing racial inequity in this county, may I suggest that first each member, at the very least, do their own self-reflection on what has enabled them as fully educated, professional white adults to not know about racism and their roles in it. Then create the space for the agenda topics, format and moderator to be set by the people they have invited to hear from rather than dictate what they want them to say so that their white solidarity and white comfort (status quo) can be maintained.
After all, how can meaningful knowledge and understanding, much less change, even have a prayer of being built without laying a proper foundation? There are many antiracist teachers, lecturers and authors (both current and past) to help us whites to understand how we consciously and unconsciously keep racism “alive and well today.” It takes courage, stamina and a lot of self-reflection, along with our patient friends of color, to do this work. But it is a decision that can and will save lives. I hope the council has the will to choose lives over feelings.