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Alondra Cano responds to 'racist, sexist' City Pages story

Alondra Cano says she first had to decide if she wanted to respond at all.

Alondra Cano says she first had to decide if she wanted to respond at all.

On Monday, City Pages published a story featuring Minneapolis City Council members sounding off on the professional conduct of freshman member Alondra Cano.

They found it lacking. "She's lazy," one member said. "She's all about talking, not working hard." Another said Cano has a "lack of self-awareness," and suggested she's "more concerned about her number of Twitter followers than anything else."

Since that time, most of the public reaction has focused on the other dozen members of the council, as civic observers attempted to ferret out the anonymous sources behind the story. All 12 have denied speaking to City Pages.

Tuesday evening, it was Cano's turn to join the public conversation, doing so in the form of a Facebook post on her city council page. Cano wrote it was "hurtful and disappointing" to read the words "lazy," "always late," and "clueless" used to describe her work ethic on the council.

"It is important to illuminate," Cano went on, "that these words, when used to frame women and people of color, carry a history of coded language that serve to create negative racial stereotypes."

Cano wrote that the negative story "weighed on me heavily," and she went back and forth on whether she should respond to it. After all, she and her south Minneapolis constituents in the Ninth Ward have far greater concerns: wage theft, slumlords, a lack of paid sick time for workers, even working moms.

"However," Cano continued, "when loaded and biased attacks occur, it is vital that we stand up and speak the truth. In this case, this story was racist, sexist, and it was an attempt to smear all of the things I stand for. I want you to know that I am unabashed in my commitment to continuing to advance a racial and social justice agenda no matter the backlash."

Cano's post is a hit among her supporters, with hundreds "liking" the post within its first 12 hours online, and a number of Facebook fans leaving messages of support. 

Read Cano's full statement below:

Yesterday, a local paper published an article distorting my character, role and actions as the city representative of the Ninth Ward. As the first Latina and Mexican-American to have ever been elected to the Minneapolis City Council I have strived to represent our ward and our residents with care and compassion. Thus, it was hurtful and disappointing to read that this local paper decided to use the terms “lazy,” “always late,” and “clueless” attributed to anonymous sources to describe me and my work ethic. It is important to illuminate that these words, when used to frame women and people of color, carry a history of coded language that serve to create negative racial stereotypes. These are the very same racial stereotypes that I’ve been relentlessly working to undo on the City Council to stop the alarming killings of Black and Brown men and women at the hands of police brutality. These are the racial stereotypes that I have worked to eliminate by recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day and by supporting #BlackLivesMatter. These are the negative racial stereotypes our children should never have to learn. This has weighed on me heavily and I debated whether or not to respond at all when there are so many other pressing issues facing the constituents of the Ninth Ward and our city. As we speak, low-wage workers face wage theft on a regular basis and can’t make ends meet to put food on the table. Half of our city’s population are renters yet some landlords are retaliating against the most vulnerable tenants who are organizing to get the bedbugs and roaches out of their apartments. Single parents have no choice but to show up sick at work because they can’t afford to miss any hours and they don’t have access to paid sick time. However, when loaded and biased attacks occur, it is vital that we stand up and speak the truth. In this case, this story was racist, sexist, and it was an attempt to smear all of the things I stand for. I want you to know that I am unabashed in my committed to continuing to advance a racial and social justice agenda no matter the backlash. I have been humbled and deeply honored by all of the community support I have received, for that I thank you and send you mil gracias. Now, I will do what you have sent me here to do – I will continue to undo the knots of slavery, to break the foundations of colonization and to deconstruct institutional racism. I will continue to do this work with you and for you. Let’s keep speaking truth to power.