Guest editorial: Park City mayor: Join us for a conversation about race and equity |

Guest editorial: Park City mayor: Join us for a conversation about race and equity

Debating some of our society’s long-held cultural values regarding equity, justice and racism is certainly not for the faint of heart. Fortunately, our community has worked in earnest over several years to build the groundwork for these difficult conversations.

In 2016, the Park City Council set the bold goal to create a “Complete Community” where all residents feel welcomed and valued. In 2018, Park City residents successfully elevated “Social Equity” to a Critical Community Priority, furthering this commitment. In 2020, equity was re-affirmed as a Community Priority, and identified as the area “most in need of work,” and the “most important to work on.”

The strongest message taken away from our 2020 Community Visioning was — “BOLD ACTION” and “URGENCY.”

Over the holiday weekend, Park City Municipal asked the Park City Summit County Arts Council to find Utah artists of color to paint street murals with the timely theme of racial equity. The artists picked their own designs to reflect their current feelings and concerns. We did not limit their topics, and we did not promote this as an event. It was for local consumption, and we hoped the art would resonate with our residents and inspire further conversations.

Their messages included Justicia Para Todos! (Justice for All), Solidarity, Black Lives Matter, and Unity-Love-Peace. At the same time, we also held a public vigil honoring the sacrifice of Park City Police Officer Rodney Schreurs, who died in the line duty, protecting the public, on July 4, 1984.

The artists were paid for their work and even assisted by enthusiastic Parkites. The best art entertains, inspires and provokes. We’ve seen all of these reactions this weekend.

We have spoken with residents that are offended and upset. We have spoken with others that are deeply touched and proud. Addressing racism is difficult, but it begins with introspection, difficult conversations and the courage to change.

In the shadow of this pandemic, society is in the midst of unprecedented social change and upheaval. Nerves are frayed, economic disparity has been exposed, and some feel we have a “broken social contract.” Park City is not immune to these pressures, and many residents are feeling that we must also re-examine our social norms. Achieving equity will require us to take a stand and become anti-racist, to create opportunity for all of our residents and to finally build a healthy and complete community. It will require a new social contract that is more inclusive and unbiased.

Wherever you stand, I ask you to consider joining us for the conversation. This community has demanded equity, and demanded bold change. We now have art displaying some of our values in the middle of our most iconic street. For some, this art may also challenge their beliefs. The Fourth of July is not about fireworks or parades, it’s about the birth of a nation that celebrates freedom and liberty for all. It is my hope, that someday soon, we will build a community where everyone can experience that freedom and liberty.

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