One-quarter of the entire 2020 Seattle city budget was allocated to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). While last summer’s protests over anti-Black police violence and calls to defund the police resulted in an 18% decrease in the 2021 SPD budget, $364 million was still allocated to SPD. This is an affront to community-led organizations like King County Equity Now (KCEN) and so many others who have been providing much-needed community support and succeeding in creating real public safety.
KCEN, which started as an informal coalition of over 60 Black-led community organizations like Africatown Community Landtrust, Community Passageways, and Blaq Elephant Party, is now a formal, pro-Black 501(c)(4) dedicated to achieving equity for all Black peoples across all measurable metrics, including, wealth, health, land ownership, safety, college matriculation rates, organizational control, and more.
In the ’70s, the Central District’s population was 75% Black, but as a result of Seattle’s tech boom and resulting gentrification, the CD is now only 15% Black.
“My family was gentrified from the Central District in 2003,” said TraeAnna Holiday, an organizer with KCEN. “I remember wondering why my family couldn’t stay in our neighborhood. This was our neighborhood; I knew it in and out.”
A state commission that doles out debt financing for affordable housing projects is working with community members on reform after criticism that its method for allocating needed money leaves out communities of color.
The current point system used by the Washington State Housing Finance Committee (WSHFC) to assign bonds that help finance affordable housing projects has no allowance for Black- or POC-led projects and promotes less expensive studio and one-bedroom units that don’t work for larger families, critics said in a Feb. 25 meeting in which roughly 80 community members, organized by King County Equity Now, called in to express their anger and frustration.
The process ultimately excludes Black communities from access to appropriate affordable housing and homeownership and also Black developers and construction managers from participating in the government-backed program, said K. Wyking Garrett, president of the Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT). ACLT had applied for financing for its Africatown Plaza project in the January round but did not receive funding.
(This article was originally published by PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Monday, the director of the city’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), Calvin Goings, and the city’s finance director, Glen Lee, signed a letter to the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) asking the auditor to expand the scope of its ongoing audit of the contract between the city’s Legislative Department and the Freedom Project, which served as the “fiscal agent” for a $3 million project to study participatory budgeting and alternatives to policing.
However, PubliCola’s reporting indicates that the letter was written not by Goings and Lee but by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office — and that Goings and Lee were less than thrilled to sign their names to such a blatantly political series of requests and leading questions.
From Fannie Lou Hamer to Stacey Abrams, Black womxn organizers have historically had one of the biggest impacts on transforming our communities and improving the social outcomes of our neighborhoods. In the last year in Seattle, there is no doubt Nikkita Oliver (they/them) has served as one of the community’s north stars as we look for solutions for eradicating police and State violence and building a community that we want to live in. In this pivotal moment in U.S. history, where more people have joined the fight for Black and Brown Liberation, Lola’s Ink journalist Jenna Hanchard was in conversation with Nikkita Oliver to talk about their leadership and imagining a future where someday they could just fade into the background.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
Jenna Hanchard: What does Black Liberation look like, smell like, taste like, feel like?
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
We’ll also post the Morning Update Show here on theEmerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.
Morning Update Show — Tuesday, Feb. 9
LIVE — Natasha Marin | Black Brilliance Parts Ways With KCEN | KCEN Introduces Community Stewards | Black History Today — Danny Cage Jr. | Vaccine Inequity in Washington State | Is Snow in the Forecast?
(This article originally appeared on Capitol Hill Seattle Blog and has been reprinted with permission.)
One of the most concrete outcomes at Seattle City Hall of the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests is showing cracks and fissures. Monday afternoon, people working on the Black Brilliance Research Projectsaid they have chosen to “part ways” with King County Equity Now, a coalition of Black-led organizations, including the Central District’s Africatown, that formed during the protests and rallies of 2020 and grew into a new nonprofit to end the year.
“We know that our liberation is intertwined, and we will continue to build alongside all people invested in Black liberation,” the announcement reads. “However, we do not have confidence in KCEN leadership’s current capacity and ability to bring this research project to the finish line in a way that meets the needs of our researchers and community and serves the best interests of the project’s vision and responsibility moving forward.”
Following the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ensuing protests that rose up in Seattle, Jude Watson, a local chef who has worked at Stateside and FareStart, searched their metaphorical pantry to see how they could help organizations fighting for Black lives and equity.
Watson had been laid off and reached out to other chefs who they knew were out of work to see if, together, they could translate their skills into money for King County Equity Now (KCEN), a coalition of 60 Black-led community-based organizations working toward racial equity.
“It’s called the service industry for a reason, you know, we’re all used to being useful, and we’re used to being incredibly active, and I don’t think any of us are very good at sitting still,” Watson told the Emerald. “So I think this project felt like, in a lot of ways, a really natural outpouring of what we do in restaurants, even though you don’t necessarily, in restaurants, always get a chance to do work specifically for social justice.”
University of Washington (UW) students Josh Williams, Cassidy McGee, Alyssa Kearns, Sandra Li, and Dionica Sy were placed in a project group for their two-quarter Foster School of Business course called “Creating a Company Class,” which began last September. After witnessing a 2020 packed with various social movements sustained by community organizations, they chose to create a book called Nourish, a collection of short stories, photos, and recipes from 10 local Seattle organizers.
At the end of a demanding year responding to the COVID-19 crisis and overseeing controversial police tactics during to Black Lives Matter protests, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on Dec. 7 that she will not seek re-election.
In several interviews and in a video announcing her decision, Durkan said her decision came down to a choice: Run a successful re-election campaign or devote all her attention to being mayor in the final year of her term.
“I could spend the next year campaigning to keep this job or focus all my energy on doing the job,” Durkan said. “There was only one right choice for our city: Doing the job.”
To gauge how the South End feels about the mayor’s eventual departure, the Emerald spoke with local groups and community members about what the mayor’s decision means to them and their view for the city.