Rantz: Tacoma Parks hosts ‘white staff only’ meeting to fight white supremacy violence

May 25, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: 5:53 pm

Metro Parks Tacoma hosted a whites-only staff meeting to discuss white supremacy and how “white people can move from being allies to advocates.” The meeting was in response to the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

The department’s chief equity officer Norinda Rosario sent an all-staff email this week to alert white staff members of the upcoming one-hour meeting. It’s not required.

“I am holding space for White staff to connect and share their thoughts and feelings around the Buffalo Supermarket massacre that took the lives of 10 innocent Black people in Buffalo, NY, on Saturday, May 14. This is an invitation, not an expectation,” the email invite read.

When a staff member complained that this is divisive, Rosario shamed him publicly, saying she was glad it made him “cringe.”

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This meeting demonized white staff

A spokesperson with Tacoma Parks explained to the Jason Rantz Show that these kinds of “affinity” group meetings — segregated get-togethers with people who share an identity — are common. And this one was to get white staff to become activists.

“The conversation for white folks was also intended to help grieve and process and heal, but also to share thoughts about racial violence and how white people can move from being allies to advocates – in a conversation space without risk of further traumatizing BIPOC colleagues,” the spokesperson emailed the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

It’s unclear how a conversation meant to grieve, process, and heal would traumatize non-white staff. But the implication is that, in this case, black employees are not able to handle conversations with white people, which the department is effectively demonizing here for not being “advocates.” It’s as if Tacoma Parks thinks its white employees support racially-motivated shootings.

They also held other meetings for non-white staff, but it included the demonization of white colleagues.

“There were several conversation times for black/BIPOC folks, and others for white folks,” the spokesperson emailed. “The intent behind the conversations for BIPOC folks was to create a process for healing, a space where people can talk freely, for black and brown staff to grieve and process this incident and the toll of racism as a whole without the risk of the conversation diverting to console white people and serve their needs instead.”

The meeting received immediate pushback as the staff was concerned that this was a partisan attempt to pit whites against blacks.

Workers were outraged

The email invite didn’t sit well with staff members. Some, according to a source, felt uncomfortable speaking out publicly. But one hit reply-all to the email.

“White staff? This doesn’t sit well with me separating fellow coworkers by skin color. It was a tragic event that took place, but I’d like to think we all fit under the same umbrella as Americans. Our hearts go out to those affected,” he wrote.

Equity director Rosario responded two days later to address the concern raised. She said she did not have time to put more details into the intent of her email, which she said she wished she had done. But she also scolded the man for expressing his concern.

“The Buffalo Massacre occurred on Saturday, May 14, and from that moment on, my focus was centered on the health and welfare of MPT’s Black staff, and not the comfort or needs of White people,” she wrote. “My choice to include other People of Color was based on the likelihood that they too have experienced racial violence and that this incident has likely activated their anguish, anger, fear, and frustration as well.”

She then unloaded on the staff member, which she sent to all staff. She complained that she is “not a counselor or a therapist” but a “facilitator, advisor, guide, and coach.” But, she said she was glad she upset the staff member.

“I’m happy to know that reading the words White Staff Only makes some people cringe. It means that your heart is in the right place. But, I challenge you to do the work to understand why the practice of providing raced-based affinity groups is a powerful tool for healing.”

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The resources paint white people as oppressors

Rosario defended the idea of affinity groups in her email, noting she understands that some people are new to the concept. She offered a number of links to resources explaining the benefits of these meetings.

One resource offers “anti-racist” tools for white staff members to use. It defines the space thusly:

For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than placing a burden on people of color to teach them.

Another resource defended racially segregated meetings, arguing all white people judge black people to the point that black expression and authenticity are hindered:

People of color need their own spaces. Black people need their own spaces. We need places in which we can gather and be free from the mainstream stereotypes and marginalization that permeate every other societal space we occupy. We need spaces where we can be our authentic selves without white people’s judgment and insecurity muzzling that expression. We need spaces where we can simply be—where we can get off the treadmill of making white people comfortable and finally realize just how tired we are.

If this is how Rosario views white employees at Tacoma Parks, it’s no wonder staff complained.

Don’t let race-baiters guilt you

The email makes no mention of the May 15 racially-motivated shooting at a California church. Partisan media outlets opted against much coverage because the shooter was Chinese rather than a white supremacist. It’s precisely why Tacoma Parks ignored it, too.

“The Laguna Woods shooting, while devastating, was a political hate crime (according to the Orange County Sheriff) which is a different thing, as you know,” the Tacoma Parks spokesperson told me.

Indeed, I do know. The church shooting didn’t fit the right kind of politics for it to matter for the equity agency Tacoma Parks. It’s not a narrative they can exploit.

Race-baiters like Rosario, and woke government agencies like Tacoma Parks, have become convinced that all white people somehow are to blame for any anti-black attack. It’s a bad faith, unreasonable position, obviously. Is the Black or Latino community to blame for gang violence when gang membership is primarily Black or Latino? Of course not. Race propagandists would likely blame white supremacy for creating gangs to begin with.

There’s not a single white staff member at Tacoma Parks who is responsible for what happened in Buffalo. There’s not a single Latino staff member responsible for what happened in Uvalde, Tex. either. And Black staff members bear no responsibility for the mass murder in Waukesha at the oft-forgotten parade massacre that didn’t fit the media and left-wing narrative.

The race of the murderer is not a reflection of the community which shares their race — or any identity.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  InstagramFacebook, and YouTube. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Tacoma Parks hosts ‘white staff only’ meeting to fight white supremacy violence