KTTH OPINION

Rantz: City to host ‘inclusive and welcoming’ meeting that excludes almost everyone

Jan 11, 2024, 8:15 PM | Updated: Jan 12, 2024, 8:48 am

redmond inclusive meeting...

(Photo courtesy of the City of Redmond)

(Photo courtesy of the City of Redmond)

Officials in Redmond are hosting an event to help make the city more inclusive. But the majority of the city would be unlikely to understand anything said in the meeting. It’s entirely in Spanish.

According to a social media post promoting the event, residents are invited to RSVP for a morning meeting “to help identify ways we can change our spaces and places to create a city that is inclusive and welcoming for all.” But the post, inexplicably in English, said the meeting is entirely in Spanish. When you click the link to RSVP, the entire event RSVP page is in Spanish.

An event that’s presented solely in Spanish is the exact opposite of inclusive and welcoming. Every resident may be invited, but only a small percentage would get any value in attending. And when you translate the RSVP page, you realize the event isn’t really about being “welcoming for all.”

According to a translation, the event description adds a new detail left out of the social media ad. It said the event is meant to “make the City of Redmond an inclusive and welcoming place for the Spanish-speaking community.” It went from creating a city inclusive and welcoming for “all” to “Spanish-speaking community.”

Was this a virtue-signaling trick?

It seems like the intent of this post was to trick the community into thinking the city is interested in being inclusive for all.

The majority of people who see the post won’t click on it. But they may read the text, see a few buzzwords and the city earns some social currency. Perhaps that’s what they were looking for. A city spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

While Hispanic and Latino Americans represent one of the largest ethnic minority in Redmond, they account for only 7% of the total population

What was the intent, exactly?

Even if the intent of the meeting was to make Spanish-speaking residents feel more included in the community, why not make it English?

For starters, the social media ad is in English. Ironically, if residents who only speak Spanish were to see the ad, they wouldn’t understand it. Their inclusivity meeting, therefore, excludes them. And if someone speaks both Spanish and English, why not host the event in English so that everyone can come and participate? If you want a community to be inclusive, they should all be included.

As importantly, if the goal is to be inclusive of Spanish-speaking community members, it would behoove the city to encourage them to learn how to speak English. Redmond, like the majority of Washington state and this country, is not a city that’s easy to live in and navigate when you don’t speak any English.

UPDATE: 1/12/2024 8:47 a.m.

The City of Redmond offered a belated statement indicating this Spanish-only event and another similar event in English, “are part of a larger effort to hear from community members about how they think Redmond can be a more inclusive community.”

The spokesperson said there are only 5.1% Spanish-speaking residents in the city and, of them, roughly a quarter speak English less than “very well” (under 1,000 residents, approximately). He says based on some users’ Facebook settings, a Spanish ad may be auto-translated to the language the user speaks.

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