Mayor Dan Holladay doesn't understand equality vs. equity
As a Black resident of Oregon City, I would like to add my voice to those already asking for a recall of our mayor, Dan Holladay. After reflecting on my interaction with Mayor Holladay after the death of George Floyd, I see no option but to support the recall.
I was one of the people that contacted Mayor Holladay when he posted on social media that he treats all residents of Oregon City equally. Treating everyone "equally" sounds great, but it is not. If you treat everyone equally, then you would treat a deaf person the same as you would treat a person with full hearing and you would treat someone with mobility issues the same way you treat someone without [those] issues. We know not to do that. People with hearing difficulty are provided sign language interpreters or other methods that allow them to access audio information to the same degree as those without a hearing impairment. We modify streets and buildings so that it is easier to allow access to individuals with impaired mobility. We do not just strive to treat people equally; we strive to treat people equitably. This means we understand what barriers individuals and groups have and develop ways to address those barriers so that everyone has an equal chance to be successful. This misunderstanding of the difference between equality and equity is why I am writing.
Mayor Holladay's words suggest that he does not understand equity and how that impacts the city that is under his charge — and he shows no interest in spending energy on personal growth in this area. There are many reports and studies outlining the disparities in health outcomes, education, justice and housing nationwide between whites and people of color. The Centers for Disease Control has an entire section of their website devoted to assessing health disparities for minorities. This information cannot be ignored, and I would expect every responsible mayor or politician to be fully aware of this data.
The demographics of Oregon and Oregon City are changing as our region grows. Mayor Holladay's words that he treats all citizens equally means that he does not recognize that disparities exist and has no intention of addressing them as they arise. Instead of being thoughtful and addressing problems around equity in advance, Mayor Holladay's views on equity put the city in a position of causing harm to residents and visitors because he does not recognize the unique lived experiences of certain members of his community.
I want every resident to feel that the city will support their needs and I want people that are considering a move or even just a visit to Oregon City to feel welcome. I still encounter minorities that will not visit our family in Oregon City or that are unsurprised when they hear about the acts of our mayor. This narrative for Oregon City cannot stand.
The inability of our mayor to understand equity is a barrier to our city being viewed as welcoming to all. If you are a resident of Oregon City and you want our city to continue to grow and be an attractive place to raise a family, shop or start a business, please review the information found at the Recall Dan Holladay website (recalldanholladay.com) and sign the petition.
Oregon City resident Ernest "Tory" Blackwell, Ph.D., is a Clackamas Community College instructor. He shared these views as a resident and does not claim to speak for the college.
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