Victim of Rohnert Park racist verbal attack chooses love over hate

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Friday, March 19, 2021
Victim of Bay Area racist verbal attack chooses love over hate
The vice mayor of Rohnert Park is choosing love over hate after she was the victim of a racist verbal attack.

RONHERT PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- This is the story of a naturalized citizen from the Congo, living her American dream. But when we caught up with Jackie Elward of the Rohnert Park City Council on Wednesday, she described how that same dream feels challenged, right now.

"I thought America is better than this," she said.

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There is a sign in Rohnert Park that describes it as a friendly city. The place did not feel that way for Jackie Elward, yesterday.

She is the new vice-mayor, and had been taking a call from an unidentified citizen. He was irate that the council had voted to ban fireworks this year.

Then, out of nowhere, the conversation turned ugly and unprintable.

"He basically went on 'f-you, n--er. You better go back to Africa where you belong."

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After seeing the story of a Marin City couple lowballed in what they believe was a racially biased appraisal. The Curtis family knew something wasn't right when they also received a low appraisal because both the husband and wife work in real estate.

Those words cut Jackie Elward to the heart.

"This is my community. I raise my children here. This is my home."

What would you do? Jackie did not suffer the insult silently. She wrote about it on Facebook. The reaction...overwhelmingly positive, with anger, too, from people like Mayor Gerard Giudice. He met with the council member today.

"I don't care what the issue is," said the mayor. "The way she was treated is terrible and no public official should be treated like that."

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But as we know, the hate in this stressful year has extended beyond public officials. Racism has found new voices, new victims. Elward had a choice---go negative, or harness the moment.

"You have not given up?" we asked.

"No. I will not give up. This is another channel. Another choice of strength to fight for the voiceless."

Such a fight does not begin, she said, by following hate with more hate. A genuinely strong step moves in the other direction. Elward took it.

"I am going to stop the cycle by saying I forgive you. And there is still time to change."

So said the councilmember has taken a horrible moment and chosen love over hate.