It is infuriating to learn that the people on whom we depend to unite us are, in fact, seeking to divide us. So when audio surfaced of Los Angeles City Council members openly discussing race as a zero sum game while making abhorrent, racist remarks that pit our communities against one another, we were heartbroken.
In the course of a horrifying conversation about redistricting, some of our city’s most prominent Latinx leaders made remarks that were anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ. They used harmful racist tropes that have been used for centuries to dehumanize and oppress people of color. And they made it clear that we have a lot of work to do if we are to dismantle systemic racism in Los Angeles.
NLSLA has engaged in racial justice work since its inception in 1965. Several years ago, NLSLA made more explicit its commitment to fighting to address the racial dimensions of poverty, and began the hard work of looking internally at how the biases within each of us impact our work. The leaked conversation from City Hall makes it clear that this kind of work is critical if we are to truly move towards inclusion and equity in Los Angeles.
NLSLA is a diverse organization. Our leadership team is Latinx, Black, Asian American, White, and mostly female. We serve communities that reflect the rich diversity of Los Angeles County, and we do so proudly. In the face of these disheartening revelations, we will strengthen our commitment to the people we serve, and we will move forward with resolve and with hope.
Because, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
With love and light, and ever in solidarity,
Yvonne Mariajimenez, President & CEO | Esteban Rodriguez, Board Chair