Hearing Mayor Kate Snyder speak out in defense of City Manager Jon Jennings frustrated me as a Portland resident. Black Lives Matter protesters have called for the removal of Jennings based on a poor track record when it comes to supporting people of color in Portland.

While it disheartens me that Jennings will likely not be removed, my frustration comes as white residents such as Snyder choose to completely ignore black people when they are calling out a public servant for racist behavior.

When will these privileged individuals realize that, maybe, our black constituents have a better understanding of racism than we do? Why is it that so many of us refuse to acknowledge the lived reality of the very people who have been affected by racism for hundreds of years?

Systemic racism in the United States will never be resolved until white Americans critically examine our own racist tendencies, whether conscious or not.

So, to Mayor Snyder and other white residents who defend the individuals called out by Black Lives Matter organizers, I’m asking you to think critically: do you really believe you’re more qualified to be the judge of someone’s racist tendencies than our black neighbors who have been experiencing this nightmare their entire lives?

Hannah Vilas

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