Here’s my letter to National Main Street about diversity, inclusion, Develop New Albany and non-transparency.

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Earlier in the week, we issued an emergency hubris status report.

A contest to boycott: Read in amazement as Develop New Albany claims to have revitalized downtown all by itself.

I decided to write a letter to Develop New Albany’s parent organization, the National Main Street Center, and this is where matters turn odd, because DNA is not listed as being a member.

Turning to the map, Jeffersonville Main Street is listed as a member, but not Develop New Albany.

And yet at DNA’s home page, clear as the ties that bind the organization to the mayor’s office:

Very strange. Probably just a clerical error.

Here is my letter.

Hello,

Last year, our local Main Street organization (Develop New Albany, or DNA) staged an event called the Taco Walk. It was a successful promotion, but did not come without a price, because DNA indulged in what was, for them, harmless fun; the “leadership” brought sombreros and maracas, and led taco walkers on choruses of the Frito Bandito’s theme song.

It didn’t play well in the community, and it bears noting that DNA subsequently stole the Taco Walk idea from the very community volunteer who brought it to the organization’s attention (she found the stereotyping disturbing).

I’ve been blogging about it ever since.

As long as DNA continues to evade its “Taco Walk” ramifications of stereotyping and cultural appropriation, we’ll keep bringing it up.

In 2018, DNA’s artlessly purloined Taco Tone Deaf Cultural Appropriation Walk moves forward to May 19, with the Frito Bandito returning as Grand Marshal.

C’mon, DNA: The time has come. A fact’s a fact. Taco Walk belongs to her. Why not give it back?

DNA’s and the newspaper’s masks … or, thoughts occasioned by an excellent essay called “Meet the man who hides behind a mask.”

I’ve tried on numerous occasions to engage DNA in a discussion about this issue; my e-mails and calls have been met with complete stonewalling. I asked for by-laws, and again, no reply. None. I find this somewhat disconcerting given that the organization receives financial support from City Hall.

I bring this to your attention because of this passage from your website.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

Guiding Principle – We value, respect, and support the diverse views and contributions of our colleagues and partners. We are at our best when supporting diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.

In action – We strive to use differences to fuel our creativity and positively impact our work, culture, practices, and relationships. We integrate the needs of every individual and ensure that the right conditions are in place for everyone to achieve their potential. We ask for, listen to, and consider diverse points of view in order to succeed as an organization.

If DNA refuses to so much as discuss its cultural appropriation and stereotyping publicly, how exactly is it adhering to this section of the parent group’s expectations?

By extension, what are our options as a community to somehow convince DNA to communicate about such issues? It’s not a real dialogue if only one party participates.

Perhaps National Main Street has no qualms about this issue; if so, that’d be disappointing. However, I hope you might be able to help me with answers.

Thanks,

Roger A. Baylor

(one-time board member of DNA, circa 2007-2010)

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