Letter to the editor: Time to acknowledge, address racist language and actions

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Editor:

Last Monday evening, I was headed to the city council meeting to watch the Sister Cities Commission presentation, a commission I sat on when I first moved to Edmonds. As I shared that I was heading to the meeting, a couple of concerned citizens asked if I was going to talk about “the noose.”  I had no idea what they were talking about and was quickly updated on the few details they knew of.  Once I arrived to the meeting, several city employees on hand that were “in the know” briefed me on the incident.  As I shared my thoughts during Public Comments, I noticed a crack in my voice and a slight shaking of my hands. As I left the meeting and headed to my car, I stopped in the darkness. It was in that moment that I identified what I was feeling: a little less safe and a little less secure.

Sadly, this is not the first time in recent history that racism has reared its head in Edmonds. From the (at least) two graffiti incidents at our elementary schools to the two high school students who threatened to “lynch” an African American student at Edmonds-Woodway, there are times where residents who are people of color do not feel safe. I have had the “N-word” screamed at me on more than one occasion when campaigning for office. The noose is an escalation of this racist behavior.

There are (and will be) well-meaning people who will downplay the incident as a tasteless joke or prank. It is neither of those things. Do not water down or otherwise dismiss these actions, especially if you do not have a connection or shared experience, culturally or otherwise, to what this means. There must be accountability and there must be consequences, despite whatever the initial intent may have been.

In working for an organization (YWCA) whose mission is to empower women and eliminate racism, I can’t help but wonder what needs to happen to keep us from moving backwards. After decades of sexual assault and violence going unreported or unacknowledged, who knew that a hashtag would empower women (and men) to speak up and speak out against those in power. We have seen the power of #metoo, and I wonder could something so simple work as fiercely again in the name of calling out racism and intolerance. My point is that it doesn’t take a lot to make change, and it is dangerous to dismiss and do absolutely nothing.

To the African American employees at the construction site: I encourage you to come forward and press charges because you will be supported. To the construction company: I encourage you to take action and dismiss the employee(s) that orchestrated this. To the City of Edmonds: I implore you to take the necessary actions to show that racism and intolerance has no place here.

Racist language and actions happens it Edmonds. #Ithappens in our schools. #Ithappens in our workplaces. #Ithappens in restaurants. We can do something about this, individually and collectively. #Ithappens by having real conversations about it.  #Ithappens by acknowledging it in the first place. #Ithappens by taking a vocal and united front against it.

It can happen.

Alicia Crank
Edmonds

7 COMMENTS

  1. Alicia, thank you for this. We should all feel safe and welcome where we live and work. This is our community and we can collectively strive for this. We can take Alicia’s words to heart and have real conversations about racist language and actions and decide to make changes for the better.

  2. I still think we should wait before passing judgement on this and see if we discover who did this. I still lean towards kids..Maybe I’m wrong but still before we go off, what are the police doing to track this? Has it happened like this before? Maybe whomever wasn’t even from here? Union staff building the construction? Who knows? This should not have happened but lets see how it plays out. We may be surprised who did this and why, and it may have nothing to do with where people like to go.

  3. Thank you for your sharing how you personally experienced this despicable incident, and for reminding us that unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident in Edmonds. Yes, we all need to stand up and speak out: “Not in our town!” “Not anywhere!” The trauma these workers experienced when they saw the noose will leave life-long scars, and your letter highlights the hurtful and damaging ripple effects. I applaud your call to action! I have written our Mayor, urging him, as head of our city, to reach out to the victims. I also hope they soon will go public so we all can share with them how sorry we are that this happened, how seriously we take it, and how committed we are to working even harder to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

  4. Joy Trevino, your reaction is part of the problem. “We should wait before passing judgement”? No. We don’t “wait” to call out racism and racist threats. You “lean towards kids” being the perpetrators, and think that somehow means we shouldn’t, what? Nip racist actions in the bud before they have the chance to fully bloom? Maybe the racist “wasn’t even from here”, which changes, what, exactly? Then blaming the union…I don’t even know where to go with that. Here’s the reality, Joy…Kathleen is the on the right track with here letter. No matter who the perpetrator, the action was racist and unconscionable. Standing up as a community to shout “WE WILL NOT tolerate hate here” is the beginning of a correct response. Thank you, Alicia, for sharing your story…it was brave, and important for the community to hear.

  5. Alicia thank you for doing such an amazing job of expressing the impact and seriousness of this incident.. We all need to follow your example and call out hate and racist behavior whenever we see it. Hate grows in the dark when we don’t pay attention. We cannot look away and instead need to keep signing the spotlight.

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