This post is part of a series:
- Chris Hardie Announces Council Candidacy
- The dance of newcomer and incumbent
- Demystifying running for office
- Put another white man in office?
- Going door to door
- Scenes from Primary Season
- Scenes from election day
- Chris wins in the primary!
- Post-primary analysis
- Why THIS city election matters
- On the 2012 City Budget Process
- Chris supports local challenge to ballot law
- Chris responds to public access questions for candidates
- Political parties and the "So What?" test
- Our 'insufficient' answers about hope
- A Plan for Richmond
- The balancing act in political candidate debates
- A Pledge to Voters
- Violent crime in Richmond
- Chris's campaign concludes, work continues
As someone campaigning under the banner of bringing a fresh perspective and new voice to Richmond's City Council, it feels important to acknowledge one key way in which I would not be bringing anything voters haven't seen before: I'd be yet another privileged white male in a position of influence.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with being Caucasian or being male. But as a government body designed to represent the interests of the entire community, the Richmond City Council has historically not always lived up to that promise in its own composition; females, African-American people and various other populations have been wholly under-represented there, while white men have long held the majority of seats.
It's an area of imbalance that 's easy to overlook when people spend so much time and energy examining the mix of Democrat versus Republican. Indeed, our culture has in many ways convinced us that "white and male" is normal while anything else is the exception; "minority representation is great if you can get it, but it's not to be expected."
It may be ironic, but as someone who cares deeply about having a community where everyone has a way to share their voice and where mutual respect is the norm, I'm challenged by the conventional wisdom that white males are the default profile for viable political candidates. I hope you are too.
I'm certainly glad to see that a number of my peer candidates are women and that a number of them are members of minority groups; this can only be a good thing for voters.
So if I'm so concerned about this, why am I even putting myself - another white man - up for consideration?
I'm campaigning because I believe I can do good in the cause of helping those whose voices have traditionally been minimized or disregarded find representation once again. I'm campaigning because I want to help transform some of the systems - however subtle they may be - that systemically discourage or prevent women and minorities from participating as equals in the political process. I'm campaigning because I don't think there are enough people on City Council today who want or know how to put themselves in the shoes of others who are not like them, in the name of truly hearing those other voices.
I hope you'll join me in envisioning a future where all parts of our community are represented well in government leadership, and where no one is discouraged from throwing their hat into the political process just because they're not a white male.