I feel compelled to respond to a letter to the editor by Ms. Sue Young and Mr. Richard Pearen denouncing four members of council for defeating a motion advocating an “anti-racism policy.”
To be clear, such a policy would affect only city staff, and with this in mind, I asked two questions of the city’s director of human resources during our council discussion about the motion: “Have we ever had a complaint of racism by or about a member of staff?”
The answer was “no.”
I then asked what would happen if such an incident were to occur, and the answer was that it would fall under the existing “Bullying and Harassment” policy.
So on the face of it, what Ms. Young wants a solution that already exists to a problem we haven’t had.
To be perfectly clear about where council itself stands on the issue of racism, at the very next council meeting I introduced a motion making quite clear this council rejects racism in all its forms. The motion passed with unanimous support.
Speaking only for myself, I have other reasons for voting against this policy.
First, the outcry on social media against the actions of a couple of idiots throwing homemade pamphlets out the window under cover of darkness is testimony enough that we don’t require more rules designed to force people into racial acceptance. It would seem the lion’s share of us in Vernon are already well along the way.
Second, if we’re trying to build a free and equal society, the very last thing we need is to keep emphasizing the differences among us.
To quote Morgan Freeman in a widely shared interview, when asked how we’re going to get rid of racism, he said the answer is to: “Stop talking about it. I’m gonna stop calling you a ‘white man’ and I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a ‘black man.’”
Keeping our immutable divisions raw (like race, gender, sexuality, etc.) is not the answer, and implicitly suggesting our city staff needs guidance on how not to hate each other on the basis of skin colour is frankly insulting.
Of course, racism exists here and there in this town, but the way forward, it seems to me, is to allow our society to come to terms with our differences organically – within the parameters of the law of course – without the bombardment of local government busybodies making up redundant policies to inflict on staff.
Vernon city councillor