Rantz: Black county staff claim ‘harm’ over woke Juneteenth email
Jun 19, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2023, 9:44 am
(Photo from King County Metro)
A group of black King County Metro employees says they’re livid over a woke email celebrating Juneteenth. They’re now demanding race-based hiring and reeducation around diversity issues.
Christina O’Claire, Mobility Division Director with Metro, emailed the newsletter to staff on June 16. Its opening section is focused around Juneteenth. In addition to suggesting staff attend various county-wide celebrations, she demanded staff accept her political positions.
O’Claire said that staff must “recognize” that “racism is still at the forefront of our nation.” She asked that Juneteenth be an “opportunity to recognize the injustices still being waged against Black and Indigenous people and reflect on how we can disrupt business as usual and replace it with something better.” She did not offer any specific examples of injustices or what to do about it but offered a link to Equity and Social Justice training, paid for by the county.
It’s the kind of pandering email you’d expect from a white “ally” hoping to make black friends. And it didn’t go over so well with some black employees.
Black staff claim woke Juneteenth email was ‘offensive’
Aries Dial, a Metro employee, sent an email with an “open letter” to all staff within the agency. A Metro employee shared the email thread and open letter with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. O’Claire and Metro management are CC’ed.
The open letter, which was signed “The Black staff that you lead,” calls O’Claire’s woke Juneteenth newsletter “disrespectful and offensive” because it “furthers the anti-Black culture here in the County.” The employees take issue with O’Claire, including Indigenous people in referencing Juneteenth.
“It supports the erasure of Black Americans, the descendants of those enslaved during chattel slavery, by showing that Black American struggles, efforts, and contributions can only be acknowledged when paired with other people of color,” the letter states. “It also highlights the lack of Black American representation in the Director’s office, your office, and the danger of using the acronym BIPOC. Our struggles continue to be conflated with one another.”
The letter asks if O’Claire will “mention Black Americans on Indigenous People’s Day?” It states that while black staffers are “united in our struggle” with Native Americans, “we each deserve to have our efforts and contributions highlighted independently.”
‘She all lives mattered, Juneteenth’
The letter listed over half a dozen comments from black staff who reacted to O’Claire’s email. They were reprinted in the open letter to chastise the Metro leadership because with their “positional power,” they must take “responsibility for their behavior… to facilitate movement-wide progress.”
One comment chides the email for quoting “inaccurate information on a day that commemorates Black American History [and it] proves that there is much learning to do and shines a light on where things fall within the lines of the County.” Another complained that King County Executive Dow Constantine should have sent his own email for Juneteenth.
Another staff member claims “O’Claire’s ‘allyship’ constantly feel like harm,” while another said “she all lives mattered, Juneteenth.” It’s unclear how many black staffers signed onto the letter, though it did provide seven responses to the woke Juneteenth newsletter.
Black staff ‘implore’ Metro to change
Rather than offer a list of demands from O’Claire and the organization, the staff offered a list of suggestions they implored her to accept.
They want O’Claire to hire more black people in the Mobility Division and at the leadership and management level. They said the “absence of color compounds” is responsible for the “offensive” Juneteenth message. They ask she “invest in Black lives and leadership and learn our culture intentionally.” Though the letter is aiming to teach O’Claire to be a better ally, it also warns her, “do not expect Black staff to be your teacher, as it can compound the emotional labor and harm placed on us.”
The letter acknowledges O’Claire’s “intentions may have been to be inclusive, it wasn’t appropriate.” They claim the message “led to harm, trauma, and the misrepresentation of Juneteenth to the entire Metro employee community.” They asked that she “model what correction and apology look like.”
“As a reminder, this isn’t a check-the-box performative action for Black people – this is our legacy,” they concluded.
Not everyone’s happy with the open letter
Not everyone appreciated the open letter. Several employees reached out to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to express disgust with the woke Juneteenth newsletter and open letter.
But one employee responded by hitting reply-all to the open letter with a simple comment: “Why was this mass distributed? Seems inappropriate.” Another employee replied, “Indeed,” agreeing that it was inappropriate. Aries Dial, who distributed the open letter, responded with a condescending and meandering diatribe that irked several coworkers.
Dial offered a link to an article titled “How to Be a Better Ally to Your Black Colleagues,” insisting they read about “Anti-Blackness.” She said her email response was a “heavy lift” for offering resources but was apparently necessary because she claimed the reply “caused harm” and “caused [employees] to feel unsafe, marginalized, and invisible again.” She did not get the response she seemed to have hoped for.
An ironic twist
She says she expected managers to respond to the criticism, presumably to defend her email. But she replied on June 19 because no one else did.
“I am often appalled that the County, which intentionally named itself after the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would allow such behavior of it leadership towards a Black woman of transgender experience who is a rank and file mission-critical employee as well as other People of Color,” she wrote, in part.
She continued by claiming she’s a victim of a system “that has been built for and around the white supremacy culture cultivated here in the County.”
Dial did not respond to a request for comment but did include a screenshot of my request, asking one of the critical emailers to “use your positional power and privilege to find out who shared the open letter with Jason Rantz.” Her screenshot included my email address. It ironically resulted in even more staffers forwarding me her emails.
Woke Metro brought this on itself
The only thing wrong with the woke Juneteenth newsletter is that it was transparent pandering. Thus, Metro leadership brought this on themselves.
Under the watchful, virtue signaling gaze of Executive Constantine, county agencies have been forced to adopt Radical Left positions on race. But Constantine, and other white local Democrats, are only interested in pushing these messages to placate the activist base that uses the Black Lives Matter movement to threaten political power. Constantine and the others do not care about this; they just do this because they think it’s necessary to keep power. But there is a subset of employees who expect these kinds of email messages on holidays they support. If they don’t get the email, Metro would effectively offer recalcitrant employees even more reason to feign outrage. But the Radical Left is always unhappy.
Anyone who pretends to be harmed or traumatized by a meaningless email newsletter is the kind of person who will never be satisfied. Deep down, they want to be victims because it gives their lives something to fight against or an excuse to explain why things don’t go their way. Victim culture is all-encompassing to those it takes hold of. So why attempt to pander to a crowd that will never accept it? Imagine the complaints coming in if America is celebrated on Independence Day. Not that Metro would ever celebrate this country; they’d expect insufferable replies labeling the Fourth of July a “holiday celebrating white supremacy.”
The Juneteenth email was an exercise in performative wokeness — one that now created a headache for the county to handle.
King County Metro did not respond to a request for comment. They were undoubtedly commemorating Juneteenth in a culturally inclusive manner.
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