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You can’t force people

The goal of identifying Keizer as a welcoming, safe and inclusive city is one that can be embraced by all citizens.

The plea from a small group of Keizer residents that went before the city council was for a Inclusivity resolution. Mayor Cathy Clark rightly asked the group to come back to the council with a plan of action the city could consider. The group (it doesn’t have a workable name yet) reported that other cities around Oregon are working on their own inclusivity resolutions.

The group is asking the city to spend precious resources to establish an official body that would work on language to put Keizer on the correct side of the issue. Even the simplest of city task forces or committees requires a meeting space, an official recorder and printed reports and meeting mintues.

Keizer and other local governments operate under federal non-discrimination guidelines. Many federal mandates are written to assure rights of individuals and organizations are maintained and protected.

What the inclusivity group is seeking is to legislate beliefs and behavior.

You can not force people to do what you want them to without the threat of consequences. Unfortunately, public messages meant to influence the actions of the public often falls deaf on the ears of those who are the message’s target audience.

Plus, you cannot pass an ordinance calling for the average citizen to welcome into their hearts and minds people they disagree with.

The best the city council should do is assure that the city charter uses inclusive language from top to bottom. The truest way to affect change is through action rather than word. City leaders can work to invite underrepresented communities into the civic fold—it is sad when almost a fifth of Keizer’s population is Hispanic and we’ve only had one Hispanic sit on the council in the city’s 35-year history.

To be inclusive Hispanics and other groups need to be invited to the table, appointed to city commissions, invited to take leadership roles in both civic and private organizations.

You can’t change people’s hearts and minds with ordiances so you have to do it with persistent messages of respect and invitation.