Hashing out the details of a dialogue on racism

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The format for a community discussion about racism is slowly being created and may be unveiled at the Oct. 25 meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC).

The Working Group on Race is hashing out the details for a proposed “listening session” on the topic of racism and may seek committee approval of the idea next month.

The Working Group on Race is an informal organization made up of two members of the advisory committee as well as representatives of the Humboldt Area Foundation and others interested in addressing the issue.

“We’re trying to be very deliberate,” said committee member Craig Tucker at the McKMAC’s Sept. 27 meeting. “We’re trying to figure out whether this working group is destined to become an organization, destined to become a coalition or a clearinghouse.”

Tucker, who is part of the Working Group on Race along with committee chair Ben Shepherd, said that they are determined to address racism, but what to do so in a way that’s appropriate and effective.

“It’s a very difficult topic to tackle, and I think being slow, methodical and deliberate is appropriate,” Tucker said.

It’s possible that the Working Group on Race, or some other organization, will run the racism discussion rather than the McKMAC itself.

The idea is to get input and hear the stories from people of color regarding racism.

“My sense is we want it handled in a way that people have comfort and safety,” Shepherd said.
The committee is a government body that is bound by the Brown Act and is limited when it comes to controlling who gets to speak at public meetings.

“If you do a public meeting ... the potential is that you get some crazies who show up, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Shepherd said.

Having another organization run the discussion would allow for greater control, the committee agreed.

Committee member Kevin Dreyer asked Tucker whether the Working Group on Race was considering a marketing campaign to change the image some have that McKinleyville is a racist town.

“If it’s just a PR campaign it would be perceived by people as pretty hollow,” Tucker responded.

The best PR, Tucker said, would be for the town to “demonstrate to people that we’re actually serious about this problem.”

Also at last week’s meeting, the committee decided to postpone its discussion regarding extending the Central Avenue Landscape Zone further north to Murray Road.

Committee member Kevin Jenkins, who asked for that agenda item, was absent.

The Wednesday, Oct. 25 meeting is tentatively scheduled to begin at  6 p.m. at the Middle School Conference Center, 2275 Central Ave., McKinleyville.


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