I read the various news and commentary about the regular police force; five full-time officers and a chief strong, and a couple of other city employees resigning in a body from their jobs in Kenly, North Carolina, in protest over the hostile work atmosphere generated through a new city manager hire. Details on this are all obscure about the personalities and specific incidences of workplace hostility involved. One can sort of fill in the empty spaces, just applying what can be deduced from the personal details and past employment record of the city manager involved, and suppositions regarding the civic employees who have resigned. That and reading the comments appended to the news stories about this interesting happening from those who seem to be familiar. All the parties involved seem to be tight-lipped about what set the whole thing off. The town council was supposed to have held a closed-door meeting on Friday to resolve the situation, but there has not been anything new in the news media that I can find.
I did not grow up in a small town like Kenly, but in a suburb on the distant outskirts of Los Angeles, a suburb so remote from the urban core when I grew up there, that it might just as well have been a small town. There was only one high school – a largish one, as semi-urban/suburban consolidated high schools go – but otherwise a semi-isolated, tight, and cohesive community, a community only cracked, dispersed and amalgamated to the larger urban core when the 210 Highway went through, making the place an easy commute to the larger city. I have since made a study of small towns, doing books about them, visiting such towns regularly, participating in regular celebrations (mostly book-oriented), absorbing local history, gaining a sense of places where everyone knows each other, or is related, even at one or two removes. Look – these places are tightly-woven with personal and familial ties. Screw around with them at your peril, as all those folk tales about the country folk and the city slicker will attest.
Even late-comers to the place must make an effort to blend in, create their own positive connections, take a key part in binding the community together, and not make themselves obnoxious. What happened in Kenly, inspiring the full-time police officers and chief, and two other city employees to tender resignations is … most unusual. The new city manager does seem to have been the one chiefly responsible for inspiring the resignations. Frankly, it takes a true gift for offense to inspire such hostility within a bare month. From the little that has made it into the various news reports, she was let go from her previous civic employment, sued for the unfairness of it all, which was denied, and then spent two years as the self-described CEO of her boutique consulting firm, which I suspect is resume-speak for being unemployed; a woman of color, you see. From the previous job descriptions and college degrees, one might suspect a committed diversity social justice warrior.
I should emphasize that I don’t know this for sure, but the speed with which she alienated city employees gives one the sense that she was, and not tactful or diplomatic about it. Kenly is roughly two-thirds white, Asian, Native American, mixed race or Latino, the remaining one third black, as of the 2000 Census, although that may be subject to change in the last twenty years. So – at a blue-sky guess here, a professional city-administering bureaucrat of color, swanned into a small town, tried to throw the racial card down … and long-term employees and citizens looked at her, and what she demanded of them, and decided that the only way to win was not to play.
Honestly, I’d guess that at this point, employees of various cities, corporations and colleges who are not of the favored ethnic or sexual demographic are looking at the racial game as played by the DEI/BLM/Whiteness-is-a-Crime-Against-Humanity-Eleventy!! as a game they don’t want to play. Just look at the declining recruitment and retention figures for the military. Not everyone annoyed by the diversity woke can afford to quit so publicly. Likely that more of the dissenters are quietly resigning, retiring or updating their resumes.
Comment as you wish. Especially if you have first-hand or second-hand insight into the Kenly situation.