Long Beach City Council, Implicit Bias, Black Women’s open letter of protest
Written by Gregory Johnson on December 12, 2020
City Council Meetings in Long Beach California are always a feisty affair that is watched by hundreds if not thousands on local public access and local government channels. Tuesday December 8 was no different as the august ruling body for the city came together for its weekly meeting.
Dr. Anissa Davis is the leading medical official working the city’s COVID 19 response. She stood before Council to share her perspectives on the current efforts. Apparently driven by concerns and questions emanating from their districts, Councilpersons Suzie Price (Long Beach District 4) and Stacy Mungo (Long Beach District 5) embarked on a line of questioning that demanded of Dr. Davis to explain her credentials and qualifications to even hold her office the Health Officer of the City of Long Beach.
Some will say this line of questioning provided an opportunity for Dr. Davis to showcase and present her excellent pedigree and path to the top levels of health administration of the City. Others see the questions as yet another example of implicit bias as black people and black women in particular are all too familiar with having to always justify their positions, their credentials and qualifications.
Dr. Davis issued her own statement in response to the furor.
“While the intent may not have been to insult, one has to wonder if a person who looked more like Dr. Fauci would have been asked the same question.
“Just because people are wondering about someone’s credentials (Why are they wondering; take a moment to ask yourself that) doesn’t necessarily mean a health official should be asked about their educational background in a public forum. Maybe, instead, the question needs to be asked of those wondering: Why are you asking? What concerns do you have? Maybe they should look up the qualifications to be a health officer. And that must be what she has.
“It’s so encouraging to know that I’m not standing alone, feeling funky that people are questioning my abilities. That there’s so many folks out there calling it like they see it. Thank you.”
And so several prominent black women in Long Beach penned an open letter decrying the episode, stimulating an apology from Councilperson Price and set off strenuous discussion and analysis from residents all over the City. Here’s the letter: