Posted by Peter Brennan on Feb 01, 2021
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel


Date: 2/01/2021 

Posted by: Peter Brennan 

Today’s Program: Racism, Race Equity and Anti-Racism,  

Meeting Called to order: By President Sean Padget @ 12:04 pm 

Invocation by: Bret Anderson shared Still I Rise by Maya Angelou 

Pledge of Allegiance led by: President Sean Padget 

Four Way Test led by: President Sean Padget 

Visiting Rotarians:  

Doug Mah, Gateway Rotary 

Jan Teague, Assistant Governor, Olympia Capital Centennial Rotary 

Tom Carroll, Gateway Rotary

Guest of Rotarians:  



President Sean auctioned a Port of Olympia Gift Box of Goodies donated by Colleen Gillespie.  Warren Carlson won with the high bid of $45. 

We will not meet on Presidents’ Day February 15th. 


President Sean talked about the social rights movement that was happening when he stepped into the role as President of the club.  He took the topic to the board of directors and the group agreed we needed to take action.  He reached out to Kyle Cronk, Executive Director of The Y as he knew he was involved in work around racial injustice.  Kyle and Doug Mah then went to work with our Social Justice Task Force to help efforts of the club. 

Kyle thanked the club for the opportunity to present the work that has been done and asked members to take a deep breath and be prepared to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Concepts and language may stir strong feelings in us as we explore together. 

Group has been considering how to involve all Rotary and social service clubs.  Kyle then highlighted the disparities in success and health measures for BIPOC populations.   

Anti-racism is the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes so race is no longer the predictor of these outcomes.  He pointed out how the aspects of anti-racism efforts are perfectly aligned with the values of Rotary International.  Our shared Rotary Values compel us to act.   

Roadmap of Action 

  1. Build Awareness 

  1. Propose a learning path for individuals 

  1. Provide a learning path for us as a community committed to ending racism 

  1. Share tools for leadership within the work of social justice/anti-racism 

Our action steps:  Collaborate to establish multi-year series of programs centered on social justice and anti-racist themes. 

Providence Input to fellowship and public relations committee to make our club and meetings more welcoming to Black, Indigenous and People of Color. 

Explore Opportunities for the club to directly support social justice programs and anti-racist activities. 

Partner with Interact Clubs on racial justice initiatives and projects. 

Recommend ways to measure progress on matters of race and race equality.   

Doug Mah 

Doug shared the findings of the member survey and highlighted that majority of club membership is working on racial justice efforts in some form, that members see inequity and racism as systemic in our society.    

He demonstrated the difference between inequality and equality and then compared to equity.  Equity provides the tools and resources to make the likelihood of success fair and equal by meeting the needs of those who have been oppressed.  Finally, demonstrating that justice happens when individuals are provided what they need to level the field and provide true equality.     

Opened for questions and Wendy Holden asked to share an ‘aha’ moment.  She raised her personal concerns about distribution of COVID 19 vaccine and inequity for BIPOC communities and wanted to learn how to ensure fair access especially to these who are at the highest risk.  She learned there are great disparities in access to the vaccine and shared it as an example that systemic racism is evident in our own community.     

Jan Teague thanked our club for our leadership in this important area and Wendy for sharing the example of how racial injustice and systemic racism exists today.   

Debra Stevens shared her own experience and conversations in late May and early June revealed that many non-BIPOC friends and family were realizing that just being a good person and not holding racist views aren’t enough.  The solution requires white people to be engaged and actively anti-racist to change the system.  

A question in the chat asked what examples we have of systemic racism in our community and what do we plan on doing about it.  Doug responded with statistics demonstrating how the color of a person’s skin determines their likelihood to succeed in life and career, die prematurely, get a good education, and so many more aspects of life in the United States and in Olympia.  Doug also asked members to connect with people of color and really listen to their stories if they are willing to share examples of how they have seen systemic racism in their lives.   

Paul Knox added that as a club that is primarily white and as a white person, this topic is both incredibly uncomfortable and incredibly important.  He suggested the club invite guests who have been impacted by systemic racism in our community and that we look to focus our Club contributions where they can remove barriers.  

Caroline Manger said that she feels the news media has been promoting divisiveness for decades and hopes Rotary will leverage our communications and membership to promote inclusivity.  She believes the key to progress is in education and how we teach the next generation through engaged and active parenting on these important issues. 

Kyle asked that we capture all the comments in the chat for further discussion and said that there will be many more opportunities for the club to engage in this work and continue this important conversation.   

A few members remained on the call to continue the conversation.   

Meeting Adjourned: 1:02 pm by President Sean Padget