L.A. City Council: "This is about power."

Protesters outside Los Angeles City Hall on Oct. 12. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Last weekend, a recording of the racist tirades from several LA City Council members made national news and reminded many of us of the nefariousness of anti-Black racism in the Latine community. 

Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de León are each on tape spitting out cruel words and racist ideas reminding us  of the racism, colorism, and bigotry present in Latine communities, especially in the halls of power. It is its own kind of ironic that this has all transpired during Latine Heritage month. In some ways, these recordings are a perfect example of white supremacy at work. While I won’t spill any ink repeating the vile phrases these council members used, I will point out the degree to which they embody a scarcity mentality, where in pursuit of power leaders protect “their own” and demean and undermine others, even children.

Wielding their proximity to whiteness (and power) with precision, Martinez, Cedillo, and de León  perpetuated the false narrative of an “us versus them.” Instead of celebrating the power of a multiracial coalition, they bought into the idea if Black, Indigenous, or Asian representatives or constituents are successful and thriving then they, in fact, must be “losing.” 

Even President Biden has called for the resignation of LA city council members over these racist remarks. The resignation of these leaders, while a good first step, will not solve the racism in L.A. city council or in Latine communities at large. The work ahead is not just to speak out against racism but to be anti-racist. Thankfully we have leaders in L.A City Council, like our board members Councilwoman-elect Eunisses Hernandez and L.A. County Supervisor Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. They are ready not just to reject racism, but are prepared to dismantle the system that continues to divide us. 

As Supervisor Mitchell shared, “We all have work to do because what we’ve all heard play on the airways these last 48 to 72 hours is not new. A month ago, the LA Times wrote an article about Black workers in Orange County who are filing EEOC claims against their Latino supervisors for similar language…This is about power.”

“The anti-blackness, racism, and horse trading that took place in these conversations has no place in city hall and no place in our city,” shared Eunisses Hernandez, “Angelenos are tired of these continued displays of bigotry and corruption. They deserve true accountability, restorative action, and an investigation into these back room conversations that have had real life impacts on our lives.”

We are grateful to have both of these leaders on our board at Women’s Foundation California. They are showing us that there is a way forward and standing as examples of just what it looks like to take an anti-racist stance in government. We are proud to continue to invest in organizations and organizers who represent the majority of what California is and can be – Black and Latinx, immigrant, Indigenous, AAPI, and gender expansive leaders. Together, we are making something better. 

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