Silenced voices will speak the loudest

NOTE: This commentary was first published on on March 6, 2024, and is reprinted here with permission.

Kesha Monk has lived in Raleigh on and off for more than 20 years. She is a graduate of Shaw University and a full-time media professional; having worked as a radio personality in markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. After a devastating cancer diagnosis in 2011, she had to make a career pivot and became a voiceover artist. She has been the live announcer for the Tony Awards, The Soul Train Awards 7 years in a row, and even voiced a GM commercial that aired during the Super Bowl earlier last year. Her voice has been behind various major political campaigns across the country including President Biden’s Democracy Summit, Satana DeBerry for State Attorney General  and Raphael Warnock’s Senate run in Georgia.

Over the past year and a half, I have noticed a disturbing trend where it has become increasingly difficult for the public to voice their concerns to the Raleigh City Council. This is extremely troubling as it goes against the very essence of democracy.

City Councils are meant to be representatives of the people, elected to serve and address the needs of the community. They have a responsibility to listen to the voices of their constituents. They should take our concerns into consideration when making decisions that impact the city.

My personal public comment experience troubles range from the Mayor repeatedly interrupting me, the embellishing of decorum rules regarding what I was allowed to speak about, a “malfunctioning” comment portal as well as missing voicemail comments from the public record and presentation slides that were submitted, but were “misplaced.” I was even met at the door by security who refused to allow me to gain entry to City Hall with an 8 1⁄2 by 11 sign composed of dollar store printer paper claiming that the edges were “too sharp.” The constant effort to limit, control or eliminate community voices is SUPPRESSION.

When leadership fails to listen or blatantly disregards or dismisses their constituents, it creates a harsh disconnect between the government and the people it serves. This can and has led to feelings of frustration, anger, and ultimately a breakdown in trust between the community and its leaders.

With massive gentrification, life altering environmental issues and increased crime happening in our community, it is crucial for city council to actively listen to us, actively engage and create opportunities for meaningful dialogue. This means – even when it’s uncomfortable or when individuals don’t agree with what’s being said. By doing so, they can ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the community as a whole.

It is my hope that those council members who are working towards building a stronger and more inclusive Raleigh will continue to do so. The contrary should step aside immediately in order to make room for those who are committed to service the public good.


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