Basta. Enough. A colleague on Denver City Council recently shared a post on social media that had the words “#MalincheStrong” and took a jab at four Latinas on council, inferring that we could not band together and support her proposed map during our redistricting process. Not only is the statement about our redistricting effort flatly wrong because we have not yet voted to advance a final map, but this colleague went on promoting and reposting the graphic labeling us “Malinches.” It is deeply offensive, frustrating and damaging. “Malinche” is not a simple or harmless word to use in any context, and certainly not to call colleagues. It is rooted in racism, sexism and hatred, and its use not only exacts trauma between one another but also brings forth trauma for all Latinas and Chicanas in Denver. We are better than that.
Denigrating people who disagree on policy matters has unfortunately become a common tactic. We have robust policy debates between the five Latinas on Denver City Council, but we do not make it personal or pull a “traitor” card. Denver City Council, like the city, is large and diverse, and it has significant issues to solve; frankly, we do not always agree. We all want Denver to be a great city where its residents can thrive and achieve their goals. Everything we do is relational; working through problems together, we can move the city forward.
Lack of accountability for speech or actions is on full display at the national level, spurred on by political posturing, name-calling and demeaning anyone with a different opinion. This does not have to be the norm. We are responsible for ending that practice or maintaining it. Lies and disinformation are destroying trust between our communities and those who serve them in government. We have known this to be a historic tragedy that is exactly why some of us ran for office, to play a role in reversing that.
We all come from struggle, protest and fight, and we do not abandon that in our current roles. But we bring maturity and understanding with us because our work is meaningless if it is not tied to best representing what our ancestors fought for in order for us to be here today. Collectively, our children and community are watching how we as women navigate difficult situations and lift others up while continuing the work.
We committed to operating with integrity when we and our colleagues took the Oath of Office committing “to support the Charter and Ordinances of Denver” and when we developed the “Statement of Values and Conduct Commitments for Working with Colleagues and Together as a Council.” We pledge to you, Denver residents, to seek opportunities to deepen the respect for one another while continuing to vigorously discuss and debate the merits of any policy before us.
Deborah Ortega, councilwoman at-large; Amanda Sandoval, Districtwoman Councilwoman; Jamie Torres, Districtwoman Councilwoman Three; Stacie Gilmore, council president and councilwoman District Eleven.