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A Statement on Racial Justice

Remarks – Mayor Nancy Kemnitzer
City Council Meeting
June 8, 2020

Good evening, 

Before we turn to the business of tonight’s City Council, I would like to take a moment to reflect on recent events and share my personal views on racial justice. 

The murder of George Floyd and other racially charged killings has brought to boil a pot of anger and pain in our nation. This injustice concerns every community in America, whether we choose to see it or not. Peaceful assembly is not only a constitutional right, but an opportunity to gather and hear one another. These protests have wakened us to the need not only to listen and learn, but to act in pursuit of justice and our common humanity 

With my family - and all wearing masks - I joined one of the many peaceful rallies in Marin last week in support of Black Lives Matter.   

Racial justice is a basic principle of human rights.  It is not enough to be silently non-racist; it is a moral imperative to be anti-racist.  I believe that ending systemic discrimination and inequality starts with each of us taking steps to educate ourselves, to engage in difficult conversations, and to act. 

First, we need to listen and learn. Speaking for myself, my next read will be “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you haven’t read “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, now would be the time.   Our library director Debbie Mazzolini is compiling bibliographies appropriate to different age groups.  The list is long. Our library is open. 

Second, we are contacting SURJ Marin and others to offer a workshop or webinar to all residents of Belvedere who want to learn more about the interlocking inequities of education, employment, health, housing and transportation - a Gordian knot of racial injustice.  

Third, I pledge to contribute time and resources to organizations working to dis-entangle this knot.  I know many Belvedere residents who are actively engaged in organizations promoting racial justice - whether this be through the educational, legal, or medical fields. I encourage you to join in this effort and to let us know what you already do with institutional allies. 

In the last few days, I have become aware of #8Can’tWait, a police reform initiative. I have already had a call with one of their leaders here in Marin.  Belvedere has a community policing program, which has served our small city well and may be a model for police departments elsewhere.  At the same time, I have opened a dialogue with our police Chief to try to understand the issues. I want to thank Chief Wu for his readiness to respond to my many questions. Like our response to COVID-19, this discussion should be data driven, informed by experts, and examined with evidence. We will return it for discussion at our very next meeting. 

This intersection of crises has made us think hard about life, liberty and our common humanity. We are reopening the community cautiously until we have a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 .  There is no known vaccine for racism, but each of us can choose to be part of the cure.