On Racism in Santa Barbara

The recent vandalism of the statue Father Junipero Serra at Mission Santa Barbara brought the ugly specter of racism on display in Charlottesville to our hometown. The Humanist Society of Santa Barbara unequivocally denounces this act of intolerance and would like to take this opportunity to make our views known to the community.

The Humanist Society of Santa Barbara advocates the use of reason and logic as a means of promoting the well-being of people everywhere. Humanists also believe in social justice, and deplore racism, sexism, ageism, and intolerance in all its forms.

Attaining racial justice requires that all of us must recognize the obvious and the subtler forms of racism. We must stand up for fairness when circumstances warrant. For this reason, we reject the recent statement by Donald Trump that there was an equivalence between the white nationalist marchers and the protestors in Charlottesville and the defacement of Father Junipero Serra with the same level of intensity and resolve.

While it’s true that there may have been violence on both sides of the Charlottesville confrontation, there can never be any equivalence between white supremacists and those who stand against them — just as there was no equivalence between the Fascists and those who fought them during WWII. In the same vein, there is no excuse for vandalism or violence by those who advocate for current-day justice for crimes committed against the indigenous peoples not only in Santa Barbara but across the country.

Humanists recognize that various forms of privilege accrue to white Americans in the United States. Whiteness comes with perks, although this is not always recognized by those who benefit from those perks.

For example, white citizens can assume that the police will protect and defend them in an emergency. Americans of color, such as the indigenous peoples, can make no such assumption.

Racial bias in health care contributes to poor health for racial and ethnic minorities. Racial bias has been found in cardiac care, in the treatment of patients who visit the emergency room, in education, in employment, and in the perception of physical beauty.

Racism and Humanism are polar opposites. We Humanists believe that we cannot have a reasonable and just society if racism, in any form, is allowed to flourish in the United States.

Roger Schlueter is president Humanist Society of Santa Barbara.

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