One thing I knew about myself before you were born is that I have a mouth on me. I knew that I was going to have a hard time not firing it off if someone hurt you. One thing I didn't know before you were born (long before) was that I was going to have a non-white child. I was going to have a child who was not born automatically with the societal white privilege I was born with.
And now you are here. And the thought of someone hurting you with their words, actions or ideas brings a tangible ache to my heart. But the thought of someone hurting you because you are black makes my blood boil.
Our little city has been in the news lately. Not for a good reason. But because one of our elected officials made many racist statements. And since I heard what happened my blood has been on a rapid boil.
Today I did what I hope to raise you to do. I wrote 3 letters to the three officials who can make a change to the leadership.
Dear County Commissioners Price & Duncan,
I was so embarrassed and disappointed to hear what transpired in your discussion on April 2nd. I am from Saline county and have always been a proud Kansan. I chose to move my family back to Salina after living in Kansas City for the past few years. One point that my husband, an African-American, was concerned about was the lack of diversity and lack of acceptance for him and our daughter if we moved to Salina. I, frankly thought his idea was ludicrous. The city I call "home" was not a place that I considered lacking in respect for people of color, even if the ratio of people of color was lower than our home in Kansas City. After awhile my husband was charmed with the smaller city feel of Salina and by what he considered to be a safer place to raise our daughter.
I am disappointed and embarrassed that an elected official in this county is trying to prove me wrong. His words and evident ideas about people are threatening that safety we felt existed for our daughter. Because you see Mr. Commissioners, crime is not the only thing that threatens safety. Ideas and attitudes can be just as threatening.
I believe as a public citizen that language is important, but for an elected official you are held to an even higher standard, your language sirs is paramount. Mr. Gile used three terms that are offensive (one within his public apology) and shouldn't ever "slip" from someone's mouth. If those words and ideas aren't in your heart & mind they will not "slip" from your tongue.
And even more sickening, when he clarified the term "n-rigging" he said "Afro-Americanized". And laughter was heard on the recording. Later he said he meant "jury-rigging", but if he had then why would he not clarify at the moment that is what he meant, rather than "Afro-Americanized"?
I hope you do the right thing. The voters and the children of this community and quite frankly the nation are watching how you react to this.
A concerned citizen, wife, mother and voter,
Shannon (last name & address)
And tomorrow if change doesn't come, I will continue. Not just for you, but for you in large part.
Now mama's going to try to turn it down to a simmer, she's got other work to do too...But I want to tell you something that a man far more eloquent (and even-tempered than I am) said about this kind of thing.
lyrics courtesy of Ani Difranco (mama and advocate herself) Subdivision