By Desley Brooks
It is widely known now that I have called for an office of Race and Equity to be established in the City of Oakland. Voices have risen up across our entire city from residents, community organizations, agencies, and other elected officials discussing the need for such an office in our city.
The most resounding voice on the issue is in absolute agreement of a need for an office of Race and Equity. However there are other opinions as well ranging from moderate consideration, outright disagreement, as well as those who are undecided.
Race is a subject that we handle very interestingly in America. It impacts so much of the atmosphere in the worlds of business, politics, education, and family life, whether we admit it or not.
Yet we are largely uncomfortable having meaningful discourse around this thing that is so prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Because we are uncomfortable talking about race many of us tend to pick a side on an issue concerning race and just stand on that square, unwilling to really hear the perspective of others.
If we are going to address racial inequalities in our city we are going to have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
We are going to have to be willing to respectfully listen to the opinions and ideas of others that may not always sit well with us or even stir up emotions of fear, anger, and guilt.
Racial equity is not an issue of politics – it is an issue of humanity that can be addressed through a political process.
I obviously believe in the need for such an office in our city, but I’m not asking anyone to blindly join this cause or agree with me automatically.
I invite all of us to explore the facts and consider the climate in our city as it relates to race and equity in Oakland.
My hope is that we all will allow ourselves to be comfortable being uncomfortable and asking ourselves questions and reflecting personally on our experiences and beliefs relating to race and racism.
Desley Brooks is a member of the Oakland City Council, representing District 6.