by JIM SIMS
What is at stake for our community with the upcoming election and those we elect is a great opportunity for us to help create a more respectful, equitable, and safe environment that positively impacts race relations locally. We have the voting power to place those in office whose values reflect racial equity and social collaboration instead of racial divisiveness and suspicion of those who are different from ourselves.
When I consider the election and those we elect, I think about the positive impacts those we elect can have on leveling the racial playing field for those historically most negatively affected by racism and white privilege—our Black and Brown citizens. Earlier this year, our Bloomington City Council unanimously affirmed by vote Resolution 20-06, sponsored by me and with full council member co-sponsorship, which denounced and condemned white nationalism and white supremacy and its ideologies.
I think about the quote, “The power of the people is greater than the people in power,” and how those we elect should represent our community’s will and desire to improve race relations. We must utilize our constitutional right and civic duty of voting to mobilize that “people power” while we remove those who are intolerant and foster distrust. I think about the offices and seats up for election—judges, county administrators and legislators, Monroe County school board members—and how their community actions and outreach can represent the values and racial equity desires of the community.
I think about how elected local government officials can enact anti- racist and socially equitable policy changes, operational reviews, and legislation if we exercise our duty to elect those who represent positive positions and actions that reflect our values and desires.
In my opinion, in order for race relations in our country to be truly equitable, mutually respectful, safe, and sustainable, the historical systemic racism based on white superiority and privilege on which our nation was founded must be totally dismantled and reformed at the highest levels of our government and our societal structures. Also, in my opinion, our community can have a huge impact from a local, progressive, grassroots, targeted approach by being informed and educated voters who will elect office-seekers who share, uplift, and represent our desires of social and racial equity.
Based on my race-relations experience and conversations on race, mutual trust between races increases when those who are most vulnerable and negatively impacted—Black, Brown and other people of color—feel social power and safety to express themselves.
We must vote. We must encourage others to exercise their right and duty to vote. What is at stake is our electing the right people who have ethics and values rooted in social and racial justice, and who will represent the wishes of those who voted for them. We have the power of the ballot to direct the kind of community we desire—a community of fairness, racial equity, peace, respect, kindness, and inclusion.
Jim Sims is a 45-year Bloomington resident who retired after 32 years from Indiana University Residential Programs and Services Facility Management. He is past president of the Monroe County branch of the NAACP and is currently in his second term as an at- large representative on Bloomington City Council.