ashland.news
May 19, 2024

Viewpoint: We condemn the abhorrent racist death threats suffered by Nataki Garrett

Precious Yamaguchi and Emily Simon at the Oct. 18, 2022, Ashland City Council business meeting.
October 25, 2022

Diversity, equity and inclusion can become a reality (and not just buzzwords) in Ashland

By Emily Simon and Precious Yamaguchi 

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Ashland City Council meeting, the Social Equity and Racial Justice Committee of the city of Ashland read the following statement into the record regarding the abhorrent racist death threats received by Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Nataki Garrett: 

The Social Equity and Racial Justice Committee of the City of Ashland (SERJ) joins with the Medford Mail Tribune, Mayor Julie Akins, SOU, the Dramatists Guild of America and multiple other individuals and organizations to condemn the abhorrent racist death threats suffered by Nataki Garrett. The threats to Ms. Garrett did not happen in a vacuum. Nor is she the only victim. A black female OSF actor was targeted with specific racist threats in 2017, causing her to fear walking in the Railroad District, and requiring OSF to institute car shuttles to get their black employees home safely after performances. Stops by police officers of black and Hispanic OSF employees have been far too common.

We hope that this statement will be shared widely on both social and traditional media as our community’s history of racism needs to be confronted and exposed. Without this confrontation and exposure, the work that this community and City Council have been doing to root out our racist past and embrace an anti-racist culture will fall far short. 

Ms. Garett’s victimization is felt by every person of color in this valley. It must also be  felt by every one of us, regardless of the color of our skin, our gender, our sexual orientation, our ethnicity, our  religion and/or our age. We should all be reacting with outrage, sadness and anger.

This commission stands behind Ms. Garrett and all people of color in strong and willful defiance against malevolent words of hate that express the worst intentions that certain member(s) of our society foist upon others.

Too often, our community will voice anti-racism and equity support, but do little more than that. It’s easy enough to march in a parade, wear a T-shirt or applaud at a protest, but it takes courage and effort to take action.

We applaud those who are doing  work and educating yourselves. We encourage you to learn about American history, educate your children about systemic racism and bias, and advocate for greater diversity of leadership in businesses and schools.

Listen to Black women. Listen to people of color.  Talk to your racist friends and relatives. If they don’t listen, then move on and talk to others.

This commission calls upon the Ashland community at large to continue promoting awareness of racism through education and dialogue being mindful and conscious of how we impact others and ultimately ourselves in the process.

Racism is not a problem that impacts only people of color. It impacts all of us. Making this community a welcoming place for everyone benefits everyone. It’s good for our community, our economy, and our schools.

Each of you represent and lead our community. We ask that as a City Council you not only strongly and vocally support OSF and its excellent artistic director by speaking out against the hateful comments. We are asking that you take affirmative action against racism by allocating sufficient financial resources so that diversity, equity and inclusion can become a reality (and not just buzzwords) within the city of Ashland. (End statement.)

We believe that this situation regarding Ms. Garrett should not be viewed in isolation and should not be swept under the rug without further, ongoing comment and discussion. Silence in the face of violence only breeds more violence and we applaud Ms. Garrett’s bravery in bringing this very personal matter to light.

Emily Simon and Precious Yamaguchi are co-chairs of the city of Ashland Social Equity and Racial Justice Committee.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

Related Posts...

Viewpoint: Hope and dread and the presidential election

Michael O’Looney: We are all exhausted just thinking about another four years of Trumpian strife and self-glorification or another four years of seeing a faltering though well-intentioned, elderly statesman who simply may no longer have the energy or vision to guide the nation through the perilous times ahead.

Read More »

Writers on the Range: War comes to my small town

Talent councilor Jason Clark: “People all over the world want a negotiated solution that provides peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. More military aid just provokes more resistance and makes a negotiated solution harder to achieve.”

Read More »

Latest posts

ScienceWorks hosts Sparking Action! Community Wildfire Education Day

Live fire demonstrations, DIY air filter workshops, Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge basket weaving, photos with Smokey the Bear and storytelling were all part of “Sparking Action! Community Wildfire Education Day” hosted by the Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative Saturday morning at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.

Read More >

OSF Gift Shop is back, bigger and better

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is back — and now so is the gift shop. On Friday, May 17, a 5 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the opening of the long-awaited new gift shop at the corner of Pioneer and Main Streets, formerly the home of the OSF Welcome Center.

Read More >

Ashland voters to decide two measures on primary ballot

Ashland voters will decide whether the city recorder will continue to be elected or instead become an appointed position and whether the chief of police must be the one serving as sergeant at arms, keeping the peace during city council meetings. Ballots must be mailed and postmarked by Tuesday, May 21, or dropped into an official ballot drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Read More >

History: Ashland’s opera star connection

Ashland resident Tom Giordano didn’t know until recently that his grandfather Salvatore Giordano was a world-renowned opera singer who sang in Ashland 110 years ago at the opening of a new theater on East Main Street.

Read More >

Crossword: Canine Capers #01

Five activities at an Ashland park for Strider and friends. Solve crossword directly in the article or download a PDF to print. More crosswords under the Culture menu.

Read More >

Explore More...

ScienceWorks hosts Sparking Action! Community Wildfire Education Day

Live fire demonstrations, DIY air filter workshops, Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge basket weaving, photos with Smokey the Bear and storytelling were all part of “Sparking Action! Community Wildfire Education Day” hosted by the Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative Saturday morning at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.

Read More>

OSF Gift Shop is back, bigger and better

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is back — and now so is the gift shop. On Friday, May 17, a 5 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the opening of the long-awaited new gift shop at the corner of Pioneer and Main Streets, formerly the home of the OSF Welcome Center.

Read More>

Ashland voters to decide two measures on primary ballot

Ashland voters will decide whether the city recorder will continue to be elected or instead become an appointed position and whether the chief of police must be the one serving as sergeant at arms, keeping the peace during city council meetings. Ballots must be mailed and postmarked by Tuesday, May 21, or dropped into an official ballot drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Read More>

History: Ashland’s opera star connection

Ashland resident Tom Giordano didn’t know until recently that his grandfather Salvatore Giordano was a world-renowned opera singer who sang in Ashland 110 years ago at the opening of a new theater on East Main Street.

Read More>
ashland.news logo

Subscribe to the newsletter and get local news sent directly to your inbox.

(It’s free)

Don't Miss Our Top Stories

Get our newsletter delivered to your inbox three times a week.
It’s FREE and you can cancel anytime.