By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester City Council continues to consider the approval of an anti-racism resolution.
On Dec. 7, council discussed proposed clarifications to the document and a desire to let more community members weigh in.
A meeting earlier in the fall included council members Jill Amos, Pat Lynch and Chuck Milliken; a handful of residents who previously voiced their concern on the issue of racism; and a representative from Lithopolis Village Council, which passed a similar resolution.
In a Nov. 16 public comment emailed to the council clerk, Jenna Acklin said the city needs to identify that racism is a public health crisis. According to Acklin, programs educating the public, services to the ongoing mechanics of daily life that specifically impact minorities, and a public decree that the local government is committed to equality are all essential.
“We want community buy-in on this,” said Milliken. “We want it to be positive. I think this is written in such a way that the door is still open. I hope it is well received in the community.”
According to the draft resolution, which was later tabled by council pending further discussion before final approval, there are Canal Winchester residents who have seen first hand the “evil nature” of racism.
The tabled resolution went on to state:
•“There is only one race, the human race; and whereas…the Declaration of Independence declares that we are all created equal, that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that these truths are self-evident.”
•Council assigned a liaison and a back up liaison to attend Canal Winchester Community Health Action Team meetings and provide the council with reports.
•Council will continue to address items of action that bridge racial disparity and will continue to participate and engage with personal and public dialogue to gain a better understanding of racism
•Council encourages racial equity among all community partners, vendors, and contractors and affirms the rights of its residents to peaceably assemble against racial injustice and inequality.
•Council believes it would be beneficial to residents that the city administration and elected officials seek out and attend an annual diversity and/or racial bias.
•“Council is committed to being a welcoming body to all residents of the Greater Canal Winchester community and condemning racism and discrimination in all forms. City council believes in the good nature of its residents and wishes to promote unity with due respect to the diversity of all thoughts, beliefs, and demographics.”
Lynch said if council can get community leaders involved it would be a good way to get buy-in from the entire community.
“I thought it (the Dec. 7 resolution) was a great first product,” said Councilman Mike Coolman, “a good first generation. We’ll send a draft (of an amended resolution) to everyone to take a look. I think this is a great step forward.”
In a Dec. 3 public comment email, resident Byron Wilson said, while he was fine with citizens placing placards in their yards proclaiming deeply held beliefs, he felt elected officials should be more restrained in publishing “trending social mores when they represent a wide range of citizens holding a wide range of beliefs. I further believe that elected representatives have no business participating in virtue signaling. If you feel you just have to pass self-evident resolutions, I suggest you use care in your wording. Coming out loudly against discrimination might put you in a bind down the road since daily acts require humans to discriminate many times a day.”
Wilson said in his email if the council is going to “pontificate on discrimination,” it might want to specify in writing which discrimination it opposes.
However, Dale Daniel felt an anti-racism resolution adopted by council should be broadened to include discrimination across all avenues.
“As a GLBT family living here in Canal Winchester, I worry about the safety and quality of life for my family,” wrote Daniel in a Dec. 4 email to council. “We moved here two years and have felt so much love and support from our neighbors and local businesses. Our friends who travel to Canal to visit us frequently comment on its Hallmark charm. I would like to see that continue and to be experienced by all. As our city continues to grow, we need to make sure all members feel safe and supported.”