Monday, December 8, 2014

Stop with the "jokes": Bellevue's public workforce is not diverse for a reason

A recent Seattle Times story noted that while Bellevue’s population is (supposedly) 58 percent white, 29 percent Asian and 9 percent black and Hispanic, its public workforce is 86 percent white, and only 14 percent minority. While there is no racial breakdown of that group, one suspects that it is probably nearly all Asian, or East Asian (meaning from China and Southeast Asia) The same can be said of places like Kent.

This compares with Seattle, whose public employee representation more closely matches its demographics (66 percent white, with 63 percent representation in public jobs). But why is this such a shock? Times reporter Lynn Thompson never once mentions the words “Republican,” “conservative” or “right-wing” in regard to Bellevue.  That is what Bellevue is. That is why it’s public face is almost entirely white. 

But while the pallid-faced Bellevue city council called for a “plan to guide the outreach and engagement of an increasingly ‘international’ city to ensure that residents have access to needed services and to improve the ability of its own staff to work with a multicultural community,” it still refuses to stray from what its own “constituency” wants—failing to make specific recommendations on “hiring a more diverse workforce, but rather says that the city should train and hire culturally competent staff.” Huh? White people who “understand” minorities? Or just “understand” how to control them?

According to the story, the Bellevue city council had made such a “recommendation” more than 20 years ago, which resulted in nothing more than the “hiring a cultural-diversity coordinator and more community programs for different ethnic groups.” Predictably, city “leaders” lost “focus”—or rather, never took it seriously, since it was just a public relations move to begin with. The only non-Caucasian on the council, Chinese-American Conrad Lee, claims that “ethnic minorities haven’t been as involved and engaged as we’d like to see.” Why is he “shocked” by this? Is it because he is a Republican like the rest on the council (throw that “nonpartisan” gibberish in the trash bin)? Or is it because they don’t feel that their issues are being addressed?

I worked in Bellevue for several years, and its idea of minority “outreach” is rejecting “multi-cultural” artwork and sculptures at bus stops, police harassment, and law enforcement showing off their urban warfare vehicles and gear at the Cross Roads shopping center to “intimidate” minorities and immigrants from causing “trouble.” I had to laugh when I read that Camron Parker, senior planner in the Parks & Community Services Department, supposedly helped construct the “diversity” initiative, yet claimed that minorities would not necessarily be more “sensitive” to needs of their own community. Does that explain why the Parks’ workforce is something like 99 percent white? It’s practically an exclusive country club.

Stop with the “jokes” if you can’t even call something by its real name. Bellevue is a right-wing community where some Times employees live because it’s “nicer” than the city it is supposed to cover. City “leaders” don’t know how to handle the influx of minorities, and they want to seek ways to “control” them so that they don’t become a future threat to their hegemony.

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