Recent controversy over disgraced former Genesee County Land Bank Sales Manager Phil Stair is a symptom of an even larger problem that plagues Genesee County, systemic racism. Stair's recently exposed comments toward people of color in the county were despicable and ought to be admonished. His post-revelation apology was insufficient at best, and his resignation welcome. However, the community would be remiss to rest on Stair's response.
Thankfully, independent journalist Chelsea Lyons was able to bring Stair's highly offensive and destructive comments into public view. However, neither his apology nor his resignation are sufficient. We must address the root of the matter. Until we educate our public officials about how to combat racism in the public workplace and in the policies and enforcement created by our local governments, systemic racism will continue. That is not acceptable.
Those who serve the public should be held to a high standard. The community must remain vigilant about ending systemic racism. The attention being devoted to Stair's comments should be re-focused on ending such attitudes within our public institutions altogether, starting with those who make policy. The community must demand systemic action on behalf of the various governments of and within Genesee County to counter prejudicial mindsets. Public officials and workers should be mandated to undertake courses directed toward the elimination of systemic racism and prejudicial behavior, including racial sensitivity training.
Stair's racist remarks highlight the fact that there is still much work to be done in this area. Vehicle City Greens calls for more resources to be earmarked by our municipal and county government to address this critical matter. Based upon our pillar and key value of Social Justice, our organization calls for educational programs to reduce systemic racism to be included in future budgets and for such programs to be immediately implemented and periodically assessed for effectiveness.
Racist and prejudicial behaviors by our public officials must end. To achieve that end, the community will need to pressure our officials to change. Repeats of Stair's behavior should not be tolerated by our government officials. We must all work together in an effort to combat systemic racism and ensure that all of the people in Genesee County are treated with kindness, dignity and respect.