An open letter to the Edmonds City Council:
We are writing on behalf of members of the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation. In our faith tradition we are committed to the inherent worth and dignity of every person and equity and compassion in human relations. This means we are listening to, believing, and supporting black people, people of color, indigenous people, and others impacted by systematic institutional oppression and discrimination.
We feel compelled to speak out after the recent events in Edmonds. We recognize others in our community are working for racial justice, through art, public witness, official statements, and other ways. But we also recognize that overcoming systemic racism means making major changes in our institutions.
This includes reviewing, changing, and replacing policies and practices; and partnering with others working to end institutional racism. Other governmental entities, including the City of Seattle and King County, have implemented procedures to look at their policies and practices through a Racial Equity lens. This is a vital step that the City of Edmonds should also undertake and make transparent. We urge the City Council to include racial justice goals and strategies in the Comprehensive Plan. This could mean, for example, revising the city budget to find funding for a full-time social worker, as some members proposed at their recent budget retreat.
We commend local officials, notably Mayor Nelson for the establishment of the Equity and Justice Advisory Task Force and Acting Police Chief Lawless for the establishment of a Community Response Team. We feel it is important to have educational opportunities for the community in conjunction with organizations representing marginalized people. Community members and city government must learn more about the issues connected to the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly those that have to do with the role of the police vs. the role of social workers and counselors in keeping our community safe and healthy; this includes understanding “Defund the Police.” We all must listen to people of color to transform our community, eliminating racism and marginalization.
We acknowledge that change is uncomfortable. But we must act now, as the discomfort of the privileged is of less importance than the damage racism causes to others. Together we must work to end oppression. We must transform our community in ways that achieve equity, inclusion, fairness, dignity and justice for black people, indigenous people, and people of color in our society.
Virginia “Ginger” Alonzo
on behalf of the Racial Justice Committee of the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation