City Leaders View: Response, not racism, defines Duluth

Our community and society have come a long way since then. However, an unfortunate string of recent racist actions has reminded us we still have a long way to go. From the hanging effigy of our president on Election Day to the recent incidents involving blackface, it’s sadly very clear racism remains an ongoing problem in our country and our community. These particular events made headlines, yet we must also acknowledge that there is a more insidious and constant racism that burdens people of color every day.

These latest incidents should serve as a reminder of the progress yet to be made. They are disgusting examples of hateful racism that clearly do not represent the Duluth I know and love. Yet, our collective response at this very moment can represent the community I believe in, a community where we are proud to raise our children. We have an opportunity to use this unacceptable and hurtful behavior to demonstrate Duluth’s true values. Once again, it may be difficult to speak, but it is absolutely impossible to remain silent.

As a community, we must stand united against these actions and make clear we have zero tolerance for racism. I strongly believe the vast majority of people in Duluth are compassionate, accepting people willing to stand up together for the sake of the entire community and combat racism, bigotry and other forms of oppression. Sadly, the actions of a few can disparage the entire community. Yet the collective response of many can inspire not only our own community but others as well.

Fortunately, we already know we have many courageous citizens and local organizations ready to step up and do this often difficult but crucial work. It already has been taking place right here in Duluth. Fellow partners of the Un-Fair Campaign already have been working together to end racism. I’ve been proud to stand with them and remain as committed as ever to continue our mission.

The process hasn’t been without controversy or misunderstanding from some, yet it’s clearer than ever the vital work must continue and expand. I urge all residents to become engaged in our effort. I hope folks will both join us in speaking out against these recent racist acts and, more importantly, further our collective commitment to eliminate racism from our entire community, ensuring everyone can enjoy the beautiful community we share here in Duluth.

Don Ness is mayor of Duluth.

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