Disposable Heroes

My daughter, Maleka Brinley-Higgins Pineda, and five other people of color were gunned down January 30, 2006, at the Goleta Postal Plant during a racist attack by a disgruntled former postal employee. Maleka was 28 years old and left behind a 9-month-old daughter. Admittedly, the shooter was mentally ill, but there are many more issues that need to be addressed before history dismisses this massacre as the act of a “crazy person.”

Where was the security at the postal plant that could have kept the workers safer inside and outside the plant? What was the plan if someone attacked the plant? What were the conditions at the processing plant for the workers on the night shift that may have contributed to the killer’s motivation for revenge?

This Thursday marks the eight-year anniversary of the Goleta massacre. Forest Whitaker is being honored at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which also begins this Thursday. I urge you to watch American Gun, a powerful 2005 film starring Whitaker (he is also an executive producer). Although you may not know of this film, Whitaker has earned my gratitude and respect for his efforts on this project, which portrays the effects of guns in America on its citizenry.

Please don’t let Maleka and her dead coworkers become “disposable heroes” — working class people of color who worked hard under grueling conditions to make sure your mail was delivered. They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten by those of us who loved them.

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