Join Us in Condemning Councilwoman Nagle’s Views on Race, and Her Treatment of Constituents.
At public comment, prior to the newly-seated Boulder city council selecting their mayor and mayor pro-tem, a number of speakers voiced the desire that women and/or people of color be considered for those roles, rather than Sam Weaver and Bob Yates (both white men). In sharp contrast to The City of Boulder’s stated views on diversity and inclusion, Council member Mirabai Nagle responded by calling the dialogue about race, privilege, inclusivity and leadership, “obnoxious,” as she delivered a crash course on how to uphold structural racism. (Speaking directly to Weaver and Yates):
“You have pigmentation that you can’t help, and you have genders you can’t help, but you’re being lumped into the white male (demographic),” Nagle said. “Every single race on this planet has in some way been … ” she paused, before finishing, “has had something horrible happen to them at some point in our history. For us to be lumping you into white males, I’m sorry, I’ve had it, it’s obnoxious.”
Along with considerable public outcry, The Daily Camera dedicated an editorial to Nagle’s comments, characterizing them as toxic, and bizarre.
Nami Thompson held out a low expectation that council would take meaningful action about Nagle’s comments, in a letter to council, while also effectively outlining the challenges posed by Nagle’s views.
And Claudia Hanson Thiem further explored the issue a week later, noting that the lack of significant response from a number of other council members was starting to look like a failure of leadership.
Finally, Nagle spoke with The Daily Camera about it, saying that it was not her intent to minimize the impacts of white privilege, before accusing her critics of misconstruing her statements, and challenging them “to get elected to council and say something perfectly well on such a delicate topic.” (Nagle did allow that she could have been more eloquent in her word choice.)
In the interim, several (but not all) of the council members have weighed in with statements on social media, and the city announced through a Hotline letter from council member Mary Young that it has moved up (to Dec 3) the date for further discussion of its involvement in Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network of governments working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all.
Which means that the Dec 3 council meeting should be pretty interesting. It’s also an opportunity to take a different approach to public comment. Or at least try to. So often, speakers plead their case to council during public comment, only to be ignored, or dismissed without substantive engagement from council. In this instance, our suggestion is that speakers voice their opposition to Nagle’s views. Point out that Nagle’s views are exactly the opposite of Boulder’s claimed values and goals of participating in GARE. And then directly ask one or more council people if they support or condone Nagle’s views and what they think should be done to remedy this situation. Ask them for an answer in the moment. They may still choose to sidestep or ignore the question, but getting them on record, at minimum, is the right thing to expect. It shouldn’t be so hard.
Here’s how to sign up to speak: https://bouldercolorado.gov/city-council/participate-in-city-council-meetings
And whether or not you’re comfortable speaking, please consider coming to the meeting and showing support for those who do speak, as well as your opposition to structural racism, generally, and Nagle’s positions, specifically.
Her views and comments reflect a continued pattern from PLAN-Boulder and their endorsed politicians of expressing racist/classist views, and/or implementing racist/classist policies, and then saying it wasn’t their intention. Or that it was just a joke. Or something similar. At this point, intentions don’t count for much. They should know better. Anyone in a position of leadership should know better. Outcomes matter. (It feels like it’s been only weeks since we explored this in our voter’s guide. Yeah, yeah, you’ll have to scroll down, but it’s worth the reference.)