How Much Damage Was Done with the LA City Council Recorded Racist Conversation?
How Much Damage Was Done with the LA City Council Recorded Racist Conversation? Credit: Chris Allen, BVN

Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by BVN

S.E. Williams

When the tape (recorded last year) was leaked early last week about the conniving, racist and probable Brown Act violating gathering of select Latino members of  the Los Angeles City Council and the president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, also Latino,  to discuss issues related to redistricting, it was shocking, revelatory and hopefully not indicative of the sentiments of California’s Hispanic community at large.

What happened is a tale as old as time. The tape revealed how the quest for power and control seems to bring out the worst in people. 

Communities of color in this country who continue the centuries’ long struggle for a seat at the table, know the importance of coalition building for political progress cannot be over stated. Although there are some variances in issues between groups, for the most part people of color in this nation fight the same battles for equity and all recognize political representation is  key to helping to create change. 

But, to believe that only a Black person can advocate for the needs of other Blacks or only a Latino can advocate for the needs of the Latino community can be misleading because often just changing who sits at the table does not resolve the overarching need for each elected individual to represent all of his or her constituents regardless of race or ethnicity. 

“The course of American racial and ethnic politics over the next few decades will depend not only on dynamics within the African-American community, but also on relations between African Americans and other racial or ethnic groups.”

Jennifer L. Hochschild

Though I also strongly believe there should be fairness and equity in how redistricting lines are drawn to help ensure access to political representation is equitable as it is essential to democracy. 

It is for this reason I say it was not wrong for these Los Angeles City Councilmembers to advocate for more Latino representation through redistricting. Afterall, Latinos  make up nearly half L.A.’s  population, yet only held four (or about 25%) of the 15 city council seats. 

The covert tactics they discussed to achieve this end, however, were blatantly wrong as were the discriminatory comments they spewed. It showed these individuals at heart were more  like “racists or elitists wolves in sheep’s clothing,” pretending to be coalition builders working on behalf of all the people but all the while seeking the same ends that we so often accuse those with a white supremacy mindset of seeking. . .power at the expense of others, even if it meant denigrating Black people and other groups to achieve success. 

Those I know in the Latino community are not of this ilk. But the incident certainly raised a red flag regarding what can happen when we elect people who put their personal political goals and objectives above the needs of the constituents they were elected to serve, and by this I mean all of their constituents not just those of their race or ethnicity. 

It is difficult to know the long term damage to coalition building between racial groups this handful of Los Angeles city council representatives may have set in motion. Hopefully, community members and political leaders in Los Angeles can find a way  to turn the page.  

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Stephanie has received awards for her investigative reporting and for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at