At its Feb. 24 meeting, the Kenmore City Council proclaimed February as Black History Month and March as Women’s History Month — the first time either observance has been recognized by the council.
“The city makes this proclamation to celebrate the black and African American community as an affirmation of the city’s commitment to protect and serve everyone who resides in, works in or visits Kenmore without discrimination and of its belief in dignity, equality and civil rights of all people,” Mayor David Baker, reading aloud the first proclamation, said.
Regarding Women’s History Month, Baker, before encouraging city residents to join him and council in the celebration, said, “The role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued — in literature, teaching and study of American history.”
Kenmore’s Black History Month proclamation was punctuated by a remembrance of pioneering NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who died at 101 on Feb. 24 and was one of the subjects of the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” and an address from Purple Moon Interiors owner Nadia Reigna Silver.
“We honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers,” Baker said of Johnson. “In the face of adversity and racial discrimination, she made incalculable contributions to America’s space program and pushed the frontier of human knowledge by her brilliance.”
In her speech, which succeeded the city’s proclamation, Silver, who will be turning 38 soon and who is mixed race, discussed her experiences with racism and touched on some areas where Kenmore could be more cognizant about race, using language choice as one example.
“I’ve heard it said to me in our proud city of Kenmore, Washington: ‘I’m different. I can’t be racist because I don’t see color,’ or, ‘I’m colorblind’ in reference to race,” Silver said. “This is a dangerous mentality — dangerous to our culture, society and city because it fosters the continuation of personal prejudices that we all have — even me. It minimizes people of color’s struggles in today’s society. It limits your ability to appreciate individualism and allows you to ignore the complexities of racial issues. ‘I don’t see color’ means you cannot fix what you cannot see. It also means you don’t see me.”
She additionally emphasized her commitment to social justice and, with the city, her joint dedication to intersectionality, equitability and diversity. Silver also voiced her appreciation of the council for the long-delayed recognition of the observance.
“Kenmore’s historical first proclamation of Black History Month means so much more than a full white, Anglo-Saxon person city council correcting an egregious, 21-year-old oversight,” Silver said. “It’s Kenmore’s coming of age and a start to treating Kenmore’s racial visual impairment. It is only when and only we as a city, community and neighbors work together that the impairment no longer remains detrimentally chronic and malignant…Late is better than never.”