Letter: County Board’s attempt to define ‘equity’ leads to shock, amusement

To the Editor-

I could never have dreamed that the Portage County Board meetings could function as a source of entertainment.

During last month’s meeting, what started out as a fairly simple request for a definition of a single word featured in a resolution turned into a debate on not only WHO can define a word, but IF words can actually be defined (Spoiler alert: according to some board members, the astonishing answer is no! That’s right, some of your representatives believe they are writing resolutions with words that cannot be defined.).

The proverbial cherry on top was when one of the board members used racial and sex bigotry as the basis on which her argument hinged. The irony that this was over a resolution put forth to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. was apparently lost on her.

County Board Member Moua first appeared to take to task the County Diversity Committee for producing “empty resolutions,” but then when another member asked for the word “equity” to be defined within the resolution itself, Moua turned and stated (astoundingly) that, “the dictionary was written by white men. The dictionary and the definitions in there were written by a group who have colonized and have oppressed communities for a long time” and, therefore, Webster’s is not suitable to define the word “equity” in the supposedly “empty resolution.”

Singling out one or two attributes (especially immutable characteristics) of a person, to the exclusion of all other factors, and making broad assumptions based upon them while excluding merit is not only idiocy, it is dangerous. It degrades a person’s humanity and individuality.

Those raised in a post-Civil Rights society, plus a large percentage of those raised prior to it, understand that accident of birth bears little-to-no impact upon the content of one’s character.

I cannot completely disagree with Moua in the sense that the resolution was basically empty. The legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. has been memorialized at the federal level with a national holiday for over 30 years. But even a county official who voted to affirm the remembrance of his Dream for a colorblind society cannot seem to let go of bigotry when she feels it suits her needs.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, April 20. I may have to attend in person instead of watching the recording after the fact. I wonder if they serve popcorn or if I have to bring my own?

Robin Falk
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