Standing together against racism
Dear fellow King County employee,
Earlier this week we witnessed the tragic last moments of a man’s life – a black man in Minneapolis, who died with a white police officer’s knee pressed to his neck. This follows the February shooting by three white men of an unarmed black man jogging in Brunswick, Georgia.
These killings, and the deaths of countless black and brown Americans in much the same way over the past few years, are stark reminders that racism and hate continue to thrive in our nation – in communities large and small – and that uprooting bias remains an enormous challenge, especially for the criminal legal system. It erodes trust and faith in our institutions, in the legitimacy of government. It erodes people’s sense of security, of personal safety. It pulls us further apart, and undermines our work toward greater equity and genuine justice.
These deaths have quite rightly sparked outrage. But we need more than outrage – we need action. America cannot continue on the same path and expect things to change, because our recent history shows that things haven’t changed much at all.
We are responsible for becoming the community and society we want to live in, and it’s surely not one of hate speech, division, “otherness,” bigotry, and racist violence. As a nation, and in our states, counties, and cities, we must take charge of our destiny, to alter our course – to fundamentally and intentionally upset the status quo – and build a fair, racially just, and equitable society where the color of a person’s skin does not determine life outcomes.
We know many in our community are hurting right now. These deaths have amplified the hurt for Black/African Americans, and other people of color. Locally, members of the Asian community have been victims of racist abuse and aggression. It is important that we support one another, to strengthen our resolve collectively, to take the time and effort to reach out to family members, friends, colleagues, or one of our Employee Resource/Affinity Groups for emotional support, and help moving forward together. If you would like to speak with someone, King County provides two free services to employees that offer professional support and advice: the Employee Assistance Program and Making Life Easier. Both resources are free and confidential.
This is a difficult period in our nation’s history, but it is a challenge we will face together. Together we stand against racism, hatred, and violence. Shaking off the dust of hundreds of years of history, we must stand for the fundamental American ideals that all are created equal, and entitled to equal justice under law. Together we stand for our “We are racially just” value. And together we stand for a safe, diverse, welcoming community where every person can thrive.
King County Executive