Black Student Union hosts meeting with Mill Valley mayor


The meeting was held in Mead Theater, and all attendees were required to wear masks and practice social distancing. (Logan Little)

By Logan Little, Editor in Chief

The Black Student Union held a meeting between students and Mill Valley mayor Sashi McEntee on June 18 in Mead Theater. The discussion, Healing Through Conversation, followed McEntee’s controversial statement surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement at a city council meeting, which sparked widespread criticism.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Mill Valley is in many ways a place of privilege. Yet the crisis facing our country is — and should — affect us all. We posted a sign yesterday stating that “white silence is violence” and it was torn down within 12 hours. Our question is simple: What is Mill Valley doing to show that Black Lives Matter?

MCENTEE: It is a council policy that we do not take action on issues that are not of immediate local importance, but we appreciate hearing everybody’s comments. OK, we’ll move onto presentation item number one.

[Read: Racism is of “immediate local importance”]

According to student accounts, approximately 10 Black and Indigenous students and five staff members attended the meeting which was closed to the public. Attendees expressed their concerns with the mayor’s remarks and detailed their experiences with racism at Tam and in Marin. 

Junior Indigo Eatmon, who spoke at the meeting, hoped to have McEntee “truly listen.” 

“I wanted to hear specific actions that she and the rest of the council would be taking to educate themselves, and to bring truly support and change to both the BLM movement and a more racially inclusive Mill Valley in general,” Eatmon said. 

McEntee apologized for her prior remarks during the meeting and discussed the city’s plans to address racial inequity. 

“My intentions for our gathering were to listen, to hear, and to learn,” McEntee said over email. “As a councilmember, my job is to make the best decisions I can based on the available evidence and input from all segments of our community. As a mother of two young daughters, I was impressed by how strong, smart, and brave these students were, and I was honored to be trusted with their personal stories.”

Multiple students said that they did not feel that McEntee’s apology or presence at the meeting was genuine.

“Something that stuck out to all of us was how she quickly wrapped up our meeting so she could move onto another meeting,” Eatmon said. “We all felt like if she truly cared about our thoughts, especially since we were all pretty vulnerable, she should’ve postponed the other meeting.”

Although BSU originally anticipated the meeting would be an hour long, the discussion went for two hours before McEntee had to leave.

 Sophomore Nyiera Campbell felt as though McEntee was “deflecting” away from her controversial remarks throughout the discussion. 

“It seems like she only cares because she has to,” Campbell said. “I believe mayor McEntee said something along the lines of how she’s invested in Tam because her children will attend there, which made it seem like that’s the only reason why she’s invested in Tam.”

Although The Tam News was able to interview McEntee, she did not respond to questions about the students’ negative perception of her. 

Throughout the meeting, students discussed how to address racial inequity in Mill Valley. According to Campbell, they suggested combating racist beliefs earlier in education before prejudice is cemented in students. 

“Something that was also brought up a few times is how the main anti-racism outreach and education needs to be done to those parents and teachers who are dismissive of it, since those are the main perpetrators,” Eatmon said. 

The Mill Valley City Council voted to introduce a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force during a council meeting on June 15. According to the city’s press release from June 17, the task force will study racial inequity in Mill Valley and “make specific recommendations to Council for next steps around racial equity and inclusiveness.” Additionally, the council will vote on whether to adopt a resolution “stating that black lives matter” and “affirming that racial equity is a matter of local importance” at a meeting on July 6. 

Some students expressed hope for addressing racial inequity in the community going into the future. 

“Since the beginning of the [Black Lives Matter] movement, I was honestly shocked to see how many people in Marin and Mill Valley seemed to care,” Eatmon said. “However, in order to truly improve, everyone in the community needs to actually apply their allyship, privilege, and ‘wokeness’ to school, work, etc., and truly educate themselves on how to be anti-racist and demolish the broken system.”