County Commissioner Arlanda Williams is the President of the National Association of Black County Officials (NABCO), an organization founded in 1975 to provide an outlet for black county officials to review, share and develop responses to local and national issues.
Politic365 recently had the opportunity to spend time with Ms. Williams and pick her brain about various topics, ranging from the GOP’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to ways to deal with Tea Party rhetoric in the face of civil rights groups’ efforts to better represent the interests of the people they serve. What follows are a few highlights from our conversation with Commissioner Williams.
Organizational Outlook for 2011
Politic365: What are your and your organization’s main goals for 2011?
Arlanda Williams: Of course one of them is the broadband initiative. We want to help bridge the digital divide as much as possible by disseminating as much information to our members as possible. In turn we hope our members will share that information with the communities they serve. In doing, so this will take care of our main initiative to bridge the achievement gap.
Williams went on to say that her organization will not sit back and accept the appalling statistic that only 50% of African American males actually graduate from high school. Williams believes ensuring all children have broadband is a step in the right direction and that we can reverse these grisly trends.
Arlanda Williams: When you have kids who go home and don’t have Internet access, how are these students supposed to keep up with those who do? These same students then become disruptive in the classroom and from there, we know what happens.
Williams is talking about the discipline, to suspension, to expulsion pattern many African American students find themselves caught in. Williams went on to say NABCO is committed to all of the president’s initiatives especially minority contract inclusion.
Economic Development Opportunities
Arlanda Williams: We must redefine “minority” when it comes to minority contract inclusion. Right now there are initiatives that provide opportunities for minorities to be awarded contracts, unfortunately those “minority” contractors don’t look like you and I. Those “minority” contractors are non-minority men, putting their wives names on the business papers so that they can receive all of the benefits.
While a woman-owned business qualifies as a minority-owned business, Williams and NABCO feel there is still a segment of the minority population that has been left out of the equation – the African American segment. Williams is working with the Department of Commerce to ensure supplier diversity accurately reflects true minority diversity.
Politic365: Where does NABCO stand on actions being taken to repeal healthcare reform?
Arlanda Williams: I work for a private insurance company, so I see the claims. I see it every day. I see what will happen to a child born six months ago with dwarfism and is fighting for his life every day. This child will lose coverage in about six months if they repeal it because his bills will go over the $2 million mark, and he will lose coverage. It’s stories like that we work to put in front of Congress and everywhere we go. We want to erase the myth that repealing the health care reform bill won’t hurt anyone or that it wasn’t needed in the first place.
Williams wrapped up the interview by weighing in on Tea Party politics.
Tea Party Politics
Politic365: How do you combat [their] belief that minority and civil rights groups and its leaders play the race card to push their politics and agenda?
Arlanda Williams: [I combat that kind of negativity] by producing intelligent results. I’ve never had to play the race card because what you have to do and what I do is represent those who have elected you [me] no matter what color they are. So those kinds of comments become null and void.
Williams and her group are holding an economic development conference later this spring in Fort Worth, Texas, where she will lead efforts to provide participants with training to help bolster the economies in the communities they serve. Politic365 looks forward to catching up with Williams again as she pushes forward with NABCO’s plans for 2011.