Posted on June 23, 2023

Black County Staff Claim ‘Harm’ Over Woke Juneteenth Email

Jason Rantz, KTTH, June 19, 2023

A group of black King County Metro employees says they’re livid over a woke email celebrating Juneteenth. They’re now demanding race-based hiring and reeducation around diversity issues.

Christina O’Claire, Mobility Division Director with Metro, emailed the newsletter to staff on June 16. Its opening section is focused around Juneteenth. In addition to suggesting staff attend various county-wide celebrations, she demanded staff accept her political positions.

O’Claire said that staff must “recognize” that “racism is still at the forefront of our nation.” She asked that Juneteenth be an “opportunity to recognize the injustices still being waged against Black and Indigenous people and reflect on how we can disrupt business as usual and replace it with something better.” She did not offer any specific examples of injustices or what to do about it but offered a link to Equity and Social Justice training, paid for by the county.


Aries Dial, a Metro employee, sent an email with an “open letter” to all staff within the agency. A Metro employee shared the email thread and open letter with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. O’Claire and Metro management are CC’ed.

The open letter, which was signed “The Black staff that you lead,” calls O’Claire’s woke Juneteenth newsletter “disrespectful and offensive” because it “furthers the anti-Black culture here in the County.” The employees take issue with O’Claire, including Indigenous people in referencing Juneteenth.

“It supports the erasure of Black Americans, the descendants of those enslaved during chattel slavery, by showing that Black American struggles, efforts, and contributions can only be acknowledged when paired with other people of color,” the letter states. “It also highlights the lack of Black American representation in the Director’s office, your office, and the danger of using the acronym BIPOC. Our struggles continue to be conflated with one another.”

The letter asks if O’Claire will “mention Black Americans on Indigenous People’s Day?” It states that while black staffers are “united in our struggle” with Native Americans, “we each deserve to have our efforts and contributions highlighted independently.”


The letter listed over half a dozen comments from black staff who reacted to O’Claire’s email. They were reprinted in the open letter to chastise the Metro leadership because with their “positional power,” they must take “responsibility for their behavior… to facilitate movement-wide progress.”

One comment chides the email for quoting “inaccurate information on a day that commemorates Black American History [and it] proves that there is much learning to do and shines a light on where things fall within the lines of the County.” Another complained that King County Executive Dow Constantine should have sent his own email for Juneteenth.

Another staff member claims “O’Claire’s ‘allyship’ constantly feel like harm,” while another said “she all lives mattered, Juneteenth.” {snip}


Rather than offer a list of demands from O’Claire and the organization, the staff offered a list of suggestions they implored her to accept.

They want O’Claire to hire more black people in the Mobility Division and at the leadership and management level. They said the “absence of color compounds” is responsible for the “offensive” Juneteenth message. They ask she “invest in Black lives and leadership and learn our culture intentionally.” Though the letter is aiming to teach O’Claire to be a better ally, it also warns her, “do not expect Black staff to be your teacher, as it can compound the emotional labor and harm placed on us.”

The letter acknowledges O’Claire’s “intentions may have been to be inclusive, it wasn’t appropriate.” They claim the message “led to harm, trauma, and the misrepresentation of Juneteenth to the entire Metro employee community.” They asked that she “model what correction and apology look like.”