By now, many people have heard the recording of vile and bigoted remarks that emerged from a discussion among three Los Angeles City Council members and a federation labor leader.
Nury Martinez, president of the Los Angeles City Council, and Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, both have resigned. The remaining two council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León need to resign now. We cannot begin to heal without these resignations.
These are morally reprehensible feelings that have no place in our society. But they persist and inflict deep wounds. Healing necessitates the courage to change not just our words, but also our attitudes, which can manifest as horrifyingly racist comments about a young boy.
These remarks come as no surprise to the majority of our community’s Black members. They are not brand new.
We must all acknowledge that our Black brothers and sisters face discrimination in their daily lives that is frequently unseen by others. Consider the mental health consequences of a lifetime of hatred, especially toward children.
Speaking up in the moment is important, but we must not let our outrage blind us to the pain of the cumulative effect of racism and trauma on our Black friends’ and coworkers’ mental health. Their recovery must take precedence.
An injury to one is an injury to all, according to one of the labor movement’s central tenets. In times like these, we understand what it means to be in solidarity with our labor community members. Let us listen to Black labor leaders and others who have been hurt and traumatized by this recording. Let us take their lead. Let us also have their back. Their battle is our battle.
As a caregiver and labor leader, I am committed to opposing racism and discrimination in all forms. We are a multicultural union. Our patients are diverse. With our combined talents and passion, we will make a difference, make things better, and be a part of the change in this world.