HRC appointee: Council questions should be ‘teaching moment’
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org August 28, 2013 8:18PM
Juany Garza, Aurora alderman, 2nd Ward
Updated: September 30, 2013 2:11PM
AURORA — Qocavib Revolorio said he was surprised, not offended, by the line of questioning ahead of his appointment to the city’s Human Relations Commission this week.
The 22-year-old’s appointment to the commission sparked questions Tuesday night that prompted Alderman Juany Garza to call Alderman Lynne Johnson’s comments to Revolorio “racist.”
Revolorio said he wasn’t expecting to defend himself or his professional development at City Council.
“I was more confused,” Revolorio said Wednesday night. “When names like ‘radical’ get thrown around, it’s kind of scary. I was like, ‘Am I a radical?’ No, my name is Qoca, and I’m a student.”
Revolorio, an Aurora University student, said it was “obvious (Johnson) had no idea” what she was asking about.
“I felt it was a very ignorant question, but that’s OK,” he said. “It was a teaching moment.”
Johnson questioned Revolorio about his involvement with the National Council of La Raza. Johnson specifically asked Revolorio if the organization supported “illegal immigration,” and Revolorio said La Raza does not promote breaking the law in any way.
After the meeting, Garza, who emigrated from Mexico, said Johnson’s comments were “totally out of the line racist.” Johnson is white, and Revolorio is of mixed race.
Alderman Scheketa Hart Burns also said she was “offended” by Johnson’s questions.
Revolorio and two other appointees were ultimately approved by Council 12-0.
Revolorio had an internship with La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy and Hispanic Civil Rights group, in summer 2011. He led a weeklong health summit for the organization in Washington, D.C.
On Wedneday, Revolorio said he hopes everyone involved in the incident will be more mindful of the words — “illegal,” “racist,” “radical,” “ignorant” — they use.
“I don’t think it’s healthy. These words don’t build community,” he said. “This just shows the need for the Human Relations Commission.”
Julian Teixeira, national director of communications for the National Council of La Raza, said the group is focused on immigration reform, a legal national fix to the country’s immigration issues.
“We know that our immigration system is broken and that it needs to be fixed,” Teixeira said. “We hope at the end of the year we will have immigration reform.”
He said advocating for immigration reform in the United States is only part of what the La Raza does.They promote educational opportunities, jobs and healthcare for Latinos, too, he said Wednesday.
Johnson said she was “overwhelmed” to receive more than 50 calls and e-mails Wednesday in support of her move to question Revolorio ahead of the appointment. In addition to residents, she heard from a number of politicians, she said.
“I didn’t hear one bad comment. My residents were so proud of me,” Johnson said. “They thanked me for asking the question, for bringing up the topic they had long wondered about themselves.”
Johnson said she used the word “illegal” on purpose, because she wanted to spark a serious conversation about “the federal immigration laws that are not enforced.”
She still has questions about the National Council of La Raza, and will continue to research the organization on her own.
Johnson said does not regret questioning the candidate and plans to ask more “tough” questions in the future.
“If it’s for a good reason, to get us talking about something, it’s the right thing to do,” she said.