Russ Lehman’s recent article in the Tribune entitled “ELECTIONS. VIRTUE SIGNALING. IDENTITY POLITICS. DO ISSUES EVEN MATTER ANYMORE?” is disturbingly racist in its depiction of Talauna Reed’s campaign. He asserts that the only reason people are voting for her is because she is a candidate of color, as if there was some sort of Affirmative Action in Olympia politics. This assertion is first ahistorical and not based in any reality that exists in the United States. Candidate of color are not running from a place of privilege, in fact anything, non-white candidates are subjected to more scrutiny, threats of violence and a belitting of their life work. Candidates of color have to work harder and prove themselves worthy of taking up political spaces.
The truth is, Talauna Reed has exactly the kind of experience that this city needs. She is a social worker and works daily in our homeless encampments. She is an experienced organizer and the 2020 YWCA Womxn of Achievement. She is a founding member of BLAST, a core organizer for SURJ, and has the endorsement of the Thurston County Democrats, an endorsement that her competitor did not secure for herself. And, had Russ Lehman taken the time to look at Ms. Reed’s website, he would have seen that she is the only candidate for city council who has an actual comprehensive platform.
I would ask that the Tribune relook at the harmful rhetoric that Russ Lehman is using in his article. Internet buzzwords such as “virtue signaling” and “identity politics” are right wing dog whistles used to attack and discredit candidates of color. I would hope that the Tribune would do much better than this.
Campaign Manager, Committee to Elect Talauna Reed