What is Buried in the Footnotes

When the 2024 Academy Awards nominations were announced, a post online noted “No nomination for Greta Gerwig? No nomination for Margot Robbie? But Ryan Gosling gets a nomination? Did anyone else notice that is, in fact, the entire plot of the Barbie Movie?”

When the report on the “Culver City Historical Context Study” was presented to the City Council meeting, it was noted that names had been redacted. So that the people who were known to have promoted and engaged in racial discrimination and systemic harm were not identified. 

Um – did you notice that was supposed to be the purpose of the report? To identify systemic racism and the people responsible for perpetuating this problem in Culver City?

How do you write history by not using names? 

While the City Manager’s office may be using some form of logic that redacting these names means letting go of the past; that is is not why the city commissioned a historical study. Redacting names is the antithesis of an historical study. Accountability and erasure are not synonyms. 

It’s kinda sorta the entire plot of the Barbie movie. 

This need to identify harms and the reluctance to do so seems to be the big logjam that is preventing many good things from going forward. How can you forgive something that isn’t acknowledged? How can there be any real redress when the city is so determined to stonewall the facts? 

While I watched the City Council meeting and listened to Council member Vera read a page from the report that used the phrase “a few bad actors,” repeating the lie that some erratic individuals were to blame for Culver City’s racial issues, I was  completely astonished. A few bad actors who were in charge of creating policy, in charge of hiring and firing, in charge of land use and economic decisions that are still reverberating through the landscape. Making it sound like someone having a bad day is the worst kind of propaganda.

This seems to be an historical study that is still determined to look away from the very things that need close consideration. City staff noted that all the information was there – in the footnotes – so there was no need to include it in the text. 

Every time we chose to sweep this under the rug, we don’t get a clean start; we get a lumpier rug. That is not history. 

You can read the study at /www.culvercity.org/Have-Your-Say/Historical-Context-Study


Judith Martin-Straw

Photo courtesy of the city of Culver City


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