Tina Rau

Tina Rau, chair of the Pacific Grove Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, as she issues an apology for a social media post during a DEI Task Force virtual meeting on Oct. 10, 2022.

Like many private citizens who felt angry and upset over the recent upending of nearly 50 years of abortion rights in the U.S., Tina Rau took to social media over the summer to vent her feelings of anger and sadness. Only she's not just any citizen, she's chair of the Pacific Grove Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and a candidate for the P.G. City Council.

Rau retweeted a Twitter post criticizing Catholics and Evangelical Christians on Aug. 7 and about a month later, with election season in high gear, the tweet came to light and became the focus of public criticism, with calls for Rau to step down from her position as chair of the DEI Task Force.

On Oct. 10, the first monthly meeting of the task force since the controversy erupted, Rau publicly apologized for the post.

"I have come to understand that it was hurtful to some and I apologize. I acted in the heat of frustration, fear and anger and I hope that you will accept my sincere apology," she said at the top of the virtual meeting.

Rau apologized to her fellow task force members, city staff and Pacific Grove Councilmember Chaps Poduri—the council liaison to the task force—for "taking attention away from what I believe is the incredible work that's been done by this body."

She asked those listening to accept her apology and vowed to do better in the future. Rau called being a part of the task force, "the highlight of my life."

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Task force member Nadja Mark acknowledged Rau's apology, as well as "what a misstep it was. To that I would also say how easy it is behind your computer to get your frustrations out. I think we all know that."

Mark also asked the public to remember that "tolerance is meant to be on both sides of the equation. It's a dialogue, so while we are casting dispersions and pointing fingers we also have to remember to forgive is divine."

Around 10 residents called to comment on the situation, with six supporting Rau and the task force. Some residents thanked the members for their role in the ending of the Feast of Lanterns, which was steeped in appropriation of Chinese culture and promoted racist stereotypes.

The task force also created an apology to Chinese immigrants and their descendants that was approved by the P.G. City Council in May and read aloud by Poduri at the annual Walk of Remembrance, which commemorates the burning in 1906 of a Chinese fishing village once located in P.G. 

"I feel you are very much needed and doing exactly what needs to be done," said former P.G. mayor Carmelita Garcia, after sharing that she was profiled by a P.G. Police officer while she was mayor. She told the task force she fears that if a new council majority is elected on Nov. 8, there will be attempts to disband the task force and bring back the Feast of Lanterns.

One resident did call for the disbanding of the task force, and another said Rau should step down as chair. 

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