It’s okay for two things to be true at the same time. We don’t have to conflate topics. We can recognize nuances within conversations, and even split topics and have multiple discussions simultaneously. Seattle mayoral candidate M. Lorena González has every right to question Bruce Harrell’s stance on sexual abuse, which she has done in debates.
She has the right to question statements Harrell made in support of former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray who had been accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims. While these statements are true, they do not excuse the use of racially charged tropes in a campaign ad. And while it is our duty to stand up for victims of sexual abuse, it is also our duty to take a hard stand against racism.
I’m going to skip right to the punchline here: The King County Council failed last week when it asked Kathy Lambert to apologize for what six of them termed her “racist piece of political mail.” It also acted insufficiently on Tuesday when it voted to strip Lambert of her committee leadership positions. Nothing short of her resignation or removal is enough of a reckoning for what even in today’s divisive climate were absurdly blatant, public, and undeniably racist actions.
With a super-majority endorsing her opponent, Sarah Perry, the Council has only partly done a deed that they should have finished.
That is, unless they all can rationalize that, by following the research and advice of her political consultant, Lambert simply was representing her constituency. Even that is more problematic than it sounds.
The Atlanta mass shooting that killed eight people, six of them Asian women, along with the increase in violent attacks since Trump named COVID “the China virus” have heightened calls for solidarity between the Asian and African American communities. Coming less than a year after the worldwide protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, this is a time when the shared interests of both communities have never been greater or more clear. And the relationship between the two communities and how their civil rights movements can interact and strengthen each other are more important than ever. Equitable solutions to their shared interests would seem to naturally include sharing the considerable talents and gifts among the two groups.
Ingersoll Gender Center is one of the oldest organizations by and for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming communities in the U.S. Founded in 1977, Ingersoll provides support groups, resources, help with navigating healthcare, employment, and other services, all under the vision of self-determination and collective liberation for transgender people. However, current and former staff members claim the nonprofit has fallen far short of this vision, alleging Ingersoll Directors have demonstrated “intentional, calculated abuse, and anti-Blackness.”
On March 15, about 12 Black, POC, trans, and disabled current and former staff — known as Ingersoll Collective Action — released an Action Network petition, calling out the nonprofit for abusive workplace dynamics, exploiting the labor and social capital of Black staff, and other instances of harm.
The first major local protest ignited by the murder of George Floyd swelled in downtown Seattle and started exhibiting elements of violence. It seemed almost predictable when the flummoxed police force began funneling the mostly white crowd of vandals south. Already in coronavirus lockdown, Lei Ann Shiramizu watched it all unfold on television.
Reports Shiramizu heard about police tactics indicated the group was being herded straight into the Chinatown-International District (C-ID). The mounting images being beamed to the public, of busted windows and other forms of vandalism, were like zaps to her psyche.
“My baby is out there,” was the urgent thought that crossed her mind.
Since the beginning of the year, Asian Americans have come increasingly under violent attack. Elders have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the country from Oakland to San Francisco to New York City. In late February, Inglemoor High School Japanese teacher Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend were walking through Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) and were attacked without provocation. Nasu was knocked unconscious, and her boyfriend required eight stitches. Asian American community members in Seattle had already been experiencing racial slurs and aggression at increased rates since COVID-19 began in 2020. Then, last week, a 21-year-old white man murdered 8 people at massage parlors 30 miles apart in Atlanta. Six of the victims were Asian women. The businesses were Asian owned.
“We provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.” —Seattle Children’s Hospital mission statement
Every hospital, including Seattle Children’s, has one: a policy against obstruction of patient care.
Seventeen years ago, Children’s policy was a single page, with bullet points outlining violent and intimidating behavior against hospital employees by patients’ family members or friends.
The policy is a warning: our institution has the power to remove and ban you from this hospital if we feel your behavior interferes with our care. The document requires a signature of acknowledgement, which the hospital can use to invoke internal security or external police, child welfare, and the court system. The message was clear: you are here receiving life-saving — or not — care. On their terms.
It means that people hate you for your skin, your Afro hair, your style, for the way you walk, for the way you talk, for the way you live. You are hated for no reason at all. Being Black means seeing those you love gone at the hands of a police officer. Being Black means starting to fight for your justice when you’re only a kid. But being Black also comes with the amazing stuff like strength and beauty and our food. It comes with also learning that our skin color is our armor that protects us, so even if the world hates, we love back. Being Black means when the world pushes you down, you get right back up. It means fighting and never giving up. Being Black means having this amazing power that helps you push through everything the world puts you through. Being Black means seeing the worst but hoping for the best. But most of all, being Black means keeping your head up no matter what and NEVER EVER GIVING UP!!
Editor’s Note: This article covers the topics of racism and gender-based violence.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, the YWCA of Seattle, King County, and Snohomish began hosting a Week Without Violence to specifically provide resources and raise awareness around the fight to end gender-based violence that Black women and girls face.
While October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in general, the YWCA’s free programming this week specifically focuses on the unique intersection of gender-based violence — which includes domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault — and racism.
(This article first ran in REDEFINE Magazine and appears under a co-publishing agreement.)
Speak to Renton-based visual artist barry johnson for any substantial amount of time, and one quickly understands why his latest catchphrase, “anything is anything,” has become an overarching mantra. As johnson explains, “Because I’m a self-taught artist, [the phrase] gives me freedom …”
“anything is anything” was the title of johnson’s first solo art show at Tacoma’s Alma Mater in August 2019, and is now the title of his weekly podcast on “the origins of myths, idioms, stories, and nonsense.” Both offer tiny glimpses into johnson’s varied interests and atraditional way of moving through traditional art spaces, which has led to an art practice that includes numerous mediums, from painting and architecture to performance and film — all with a focus on Black communities.