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Published 08/03/2020 | Reading Time 2 min 7 sec
By The Black Wall Street Times Editorial Board
Two of the biggest issues facing Tulsa today are the pandemic and racism. Nothing in Mayor Bynum’s reelection platform directly addresses these pervasive issues.
His campaign site only references COVID briefly in a nonstatement containing no plans, policy ideas, or vision for the future:
“Of course, this spring, our city, nation, and world have faced an additional threat to our safety and public health. Working to stem the spread of COVID-19 has been the toughest task I have faced as mayor. There are no easy decisions. Taking actions which restrict economic activity is not in my DNA, but public safety has been and always will be my top priority.”
How can we trust the last notion of this reflective rhetoric? The statement that public safety will always be his “top priority” has already been proven false. Mayor Bynum has permitted more than one very large indoor super-spreader event with no safety precautions required or enforced and lagged to propose a mask policy, which the council ultimately carried the weight of.
He has also failed to propose other policy measures subsequently. This inaction has contributed to the accelerated community-wide COVID spread we currently face that has shuttered the possibility of safe in-person schooling and further exacerbated economic difficulties.
In addressing disparities, Mayor Bynum’s platform references the Equality Indicators, which thoroughly measures and maps inequities, and the Resilient Tulsa Strategy, which proposes solutions and partnerships. Both documents need to be reviewed and updated to reflect the current reality.
Some needed initiatives and collaborations have arisen from these efforts, though overall few city-wide policy changes have been enacted to ensure any efforts to alleviate disparities have staying power.
In the face of the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre and disparities accelerated by the impacts of COVID-19, these efforts are not enough nor do they directly address systemic racism and its root causes. This is not to say that earnest efforts to date do not matter, but that in looking at the current moment a more direct approach is needed.
Those most impacted by racism, by these inequities, are also most impacted by the pandemic and a candidate in 2020 needs to be able to see that, verbalize it and do something about it.
We need a bold vision for the future that acknowledges the pervasive and devastating impacts of the pandemic, especially on marginalized communities, and offers concrete hope.
Where is the plan to ensure that in a public health crisis Tulsans have access to care? Where is an acknowledgment and mechanism to address the eviction tsunami? Where are the policies to protect workers in unsafe conditions?
We are facing an unprecedented crisis that presents significant, lasting challenges that our community will face for years to come. We need someone who can boldly face these immense issues head-on.
We need someone who looks at the future with more than rose-colored glasses and stale words from bygone campaigns. We need a courageous, authentic leader who is ready for the dynamic challenges of the future, not someone gazing ever-nostalgic at the past.