Monday, May 23, 2011

The Village is Alive and Well May 23, 2011

What an ambitious weekend we had in the Village and I am inspired by my participation with two great events.  I wish more people would report on their activities so we can all have the advantage of the many positive and energized activities we participate in. For those who do report backs to Community please let me know so this information can be shared even more widely.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority had the Bellevue Hyatt abuzz with all their pink and green. I loved their quilt design Western Regional Conference bags. Phyllis Lowe was my hostess for Saturday morning, I participated on a panel discussion, facilitated by Soror Dorothea Johnson, from Sacramento CA, who was like a walking encyclopedia on policy, redistricting, and the governmental structure.

We discussed ways to be connected to community. I spoke of the importance of African Americans  seeking public office at all levels of the political scheme. Become a Precinct Committee Person, your name is placed on a ballot and people vote for you. This was my first elected position. Serve on Commissions, this is where public policy gets started. Each Governmental jurisdiction has commissioners for all kinds of policy interests.  The Legislature now has only one African American, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, given our population we should have at least 6. We have had only 8 to serve in this very important body during the entire existence of the WA Legislature.  We must get involved in and   run for all the positions that make up our community, local, county and state government. For every person in an elected position, there are hundreds on the ground, organizing, researching, planning and getting the work done. Be Connected

Councilmember Victoria Woodards spoke of how being a protege of former Pierce County Council member Harold Moss, prepared her to be an elected official. We applauded her willingness to likewise step into the role of Director and President of Tacoma Urban League. When Mr. Moss retired, this very active UL fell apart, lost its beautiful building.

Roz Jenkins was another panelist, she has moved on from the Governor's Office as Director of Commission on African American Affairs, and will focus on education at League of Education Voters. Unfortunately, Kris Kosmos, who is LEV Director made a misstep in eliminating Dawn Bennett's job in order to establish Roz's position. I have good feelings about Kris and her vision, but I am thinking that she thinks one African American is enough for LEV. Another case of an organization who gets money because of the plights of brown and black children and the funding is used to assure employment for white people.  The same who assured us they were color blind and did not need Affirmative Action, so voted against it.  Dawn and Roz are as different as peanut butter and jelly, but both of them need to work together to make the perfect team we need.  Roz is an attorney and policy specialist, Dawn is a community organizer, well known and loved by the expanse of the Village.

Dr. Artee Young, is energized in her role as Director of The Evergreen State College, Tacoma Branch. This is as close to a Historically Black University and College as we have in Pac NW.  It is the Branch campus established by Dr. Maxine Mimms.  Artee is likewise a brilliant attorney and was a wealth of information about restoration of voter rights and redistricting.  Did you know that even though they do not allow  incarcerated felons to vote, they get counted as residents in the rural areas where WA has built correctional institutions.  There is something very wrong with this. These areas get funding based on census numbers. So when there is an advantage to having a population of color, well they have a diverse population that is poor, and without having to pass them in the aisle of the grocery store.  Having black and brown people incarcerated in rural areas creates employment without having to consider sharing these jobs with black and brown people. When they are released the incarcerated do not stay in these communities they are sent back to the Village.

Lakewood City Councilmember, Claudia Thomas was front row and her usual wonderfully pleasant and supportive self. She hosted us for coffee break and we got so into our conversation with each other, we arrived back for the second panel a bit late.  CM Thomas has earned the right to be acknowledged as the "political mother" of our African American elected officials. She is gracious, knowledgeable and supportive. Please make it point to get to know her, or just send her a note to thank her for her commitment to public service in ways that can make the entire Village and our allies feel a bit more secure in our lives.

More tomorrow.

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