We are angered by and disappointed in three LA elected officials who were caught speaking in racist, homophobic terms about Black, indigenous and gay people. Their remarks go beyond politics, and represent a betrayal of decades of hard work to repair racial divides and build trust between communities of color in LA. Their words have reopened wounds and are deeply hurtful to our communities.
Elected officials must serve the will of the people. Leaders who perpetuate anti-Black, anti-indigenous racism and homophobia must be held accountable, and should not be in positions of power.
As a health funder who invests in civic engagement, community organizing and power-building, we are committed to working with communities of color, poor and working communities to build an inclusive democracy. A democracy in which the voices of all Angelenos are valued and heard. Yet, as we’ve listened to our grantees and community partners, we know that these elected officials do not speak for the whole of the Latino community. LA’s communities have worked for decades to bridge racial divides, uproot systemic racism and create equitable conditions in which Black, Latino and indigenous people have the resources, opportunities and respect they need to prosper.
Cal Wellness will continue to invest our dollars in making sure that organizations have the resources to mobilize, advance health and racial equity, and hold public and private sector leaders and policymakers accountable. And we will challenge ourselves and local leaders to commit to examining policies and practices that threaten democracy and perpetuate anti-Blackness, anti-indigenous racism and homophobia.
With more than 150 languages, and people who have come from all the world, LA County and city can and should be a beacon for multi-cultural diversity, community power-building and democracy for the rest of the nation.