Racism in SeaTac?

This is a good article about Racism (or the lack of it) in SeaTac!


Does a diverse community need diverse leadership? SeaTac raises the question


One of the places in our region where different languages and cultures mix is SeaTac. Not the airport, the town. The census shows more than 70 languages are spoken there, by immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia and Mexico — all over. 

And yet the local city council is still dominated by white men and women. A new slate of city council candidates says the city’s leadership needs to reflect that diversity.

One place in SeaTac that’s become a flashpoint for this argument is the Bakaro Mall, which also is known as SeaTac Center. For the past 15 years, this is where Somali Muslims from near and far have come to buy clothes, religious books and specialty foods, such as tilapia samosas and camel’s milk.

The City of SeaTac owns the property. The city is selling it to a developer in for $15 million. The plan is to build hundreds of multi-family housing units with retail space on the first floor. The city says 60 percent of the units will be affordable housing.

In this story, the closer you look, the more complicated the picture gets. Some say the current leadership is bringing Donald Trump-style politics to a city that is majority-minority. Others say local government does indeed have the best interests of its culturally diverse residents in mind, and the color of a person’s skin does not determine good leadership.

…”The city notified the tenants of the Bakaro Mall more than a year in advance that the property was going to be sold.  The city offered to help them find new places nearby.  The Refugee Women’s Alliance, the non-profit which works with immigrant communities, had an office in the mall, and with the city’s help it moved to SeaTac City Hall

SeaTac City Councilman Peter Kwon who is Korean-American is one of the incumbents up for re-election, and is the sole minority on the council.  He says of the people who were on the lease for the Bakaro Mall, members of the Somali community, kept sub-tenants in the dark.  “A lot of the businesses had the belief that they could stay forever, so that was very heartbreaking.”

Back in 2017 Peter said that he found a way to preserve some of the businesses at the Bakaro Mall.  About three blocks away from the Bakaro Mall in the city of Tukwila, SeaTac’s neighbor, a non-profit called Forterra was planning to construct an international marketplace.  “This seems like a really, really win-win solution.”  Peter says that everyone at Bakaro Mall had to be on board with the plan.  “A couple of weeks went by, I didn’t hear from them, so I went back and said hey, what’s going on with this?  And I was told the businesses were not interested.  That was sadly an opportunity lost.”…

…Before Amina Ahmed died, she had a one-on-one meeting with the Mayor, Erin Sitterley.  In an email Erins says that the list of ideas from that meeting between her and Amina, two women from very different backgrounds but who call the same place home, that list still guides the work of the council today.  Erin says that it’s important to note that Amina was in full support of the re-developmente of Bakaro Mall.  She says Amina urged the Somali owned businesses to move out and hoped they would come back once the retail spaces were built”