Councilmember Jovanka Beckles asked me to share this, which I am happy to do. I don’t even recall the incident, because so many insults fly around during City Council meetings, I have learned to simply ignore them. We probably need more apologies from a lot of people, and I respect her for doing this.
From: Jovanka Beckles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: March 25, 2013, 10:01:44 PM PDT
Subject: Public Apology From Councilmember Jovanka Beckles
Public apology and Call to action from Councilmember Jovanka Beckles
I would like to extend an apology to those who may have taken offense with a comment I made at a recent Richmond City Council meeting. I genuinely and sincerely apologize for using the word "ignorant", a term that is regarded by some to be a highly inflammatory remark. I understand that there is a historical hurt attached to this word that has been used to oppress and mis-represent the intelligence of Black and other people of color.
I accept that public criticism comes with the job of being a public official. I can and do endure criticism from the speaker’s podium with relatively good humor. I endure homophobic remarks, outright lies and hateful words. The greater challenge for me is managing the distraction that prevents me from doing the work that I have been elected to do - to manage the business of the city. The frequent heckling from a group of regular attendees of the council meetings, makes it very difficult for me to concentrate on the business at hand and is incredibly frustrating. The television audience witnesses only a portion of what takes place. They are not able to hear the constant calling out, nor are they able to feel the blatant hateful hostility directed towards me.
I am saddened and angered that as our children are dying in the streets, adults who claim to be pro-peace and anti-violence, perpetuate verbal violence and hatred in the council chambers while viewers look on. It grieves me that certain adults are setting a negative, violent and hurtful example that young viewers are watching. It is beyond troubling for me to know that they witness and hear an adult male threaten the women on the Council elected by voters in the Richmond community. It is equally disturbing that the abusive and threatening behavior is encouraged by other members of the public in the audience.
We have to love our children far more than that. We have to love ourselves more than that. We have to love one another more than that. We walk for peace, we pray for peace, we hold vigils for peace and then we violate one another with hateful words and deeds. Young people are impacted by the behaviors of adults around them more than we can even imagine.
If you believe that peace in Richmond is possible, and it’s time that we stop the cycle of violence in our city by being examples of peace and respect we want to see, then please come out to City Council meetings and let your voice of reason be heard during open forum and other discussions of important issues before us.
Our young people are watching.
Councilmember, City of Richmond