For Meagan Hockaday
For George Floyd
For Ahmaud Arbery
For Breonna Taylor
For Nina Pop
For Priscilla Slater
For Rayshard Brooks
For the countless others whose names have escaped our lips but whose loss has been deeply felt
We do this work for the love of Black people.
I, Simone Ruskamp, and my organizing sister, Krystle Farmer Sieghart, are two of the parts of the larger Healing Justice Santa Barbara Collective.
As Black femme women, we have stepped into this moment, knowing that we are continuing the work of centuries of Black women who have laid the foundation of this movement by birthing children and nourishing families (literally and figuratively), while strategizing boycotts and defining intersectionality.
We name specifically our Black foremothers and organizers because even now as the trauma and violence of police brutality have come to the forefront, we continue to erase Black women who are also brutalized by police and who often are captured and dehumanized on film as they cry for their children.
Neither Krystle nor I are new to this work. Years of being Black in Santa Barbara and honing our craft in harmful institutions have prepared us for this iteration of community organizing. We were intentional in gathering May 31 to make sure that our work centered first on healing and then on truth telling, partnered with action.
We know how often Santa Barbara likes to congratulate itself, and so we wanted to remind our community that these harms do indeed happen here, and so we named the first Black resident, Jerry Forney, forced here as an enslaved person, and Meagan Hockaday, a former Santa Barbara High School cheerleader later killed by Oxnard police. This happens here.
We have no excuses not to act; and so we must reform and divert resources from the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department, protect and preserve Black landmarks, provide institutional support for celebration of Juneteenth/Black Independence Day, and push our cities to issue proclamations condemning police brutality and declaring racism a public health emergency. We must not fall into the traps laid by performative activism or make caring about Black lives trendy. Black lives and healing matter. Our collective participation is required and urgent.
On May 31, as our “community police” refused to kneel and our mayor used her power to silence Black women, many privileged folks in our community realized for the first time that Black people in our community are not safe. As the officers continued to snicker and glare as we lay on the ground beneath them, the veneer of friendly law enforcement melted, and left remaining was the face of white supremacy. Being confronted with such realizations was terrifying, but Krystle and I have used that feeling to rally our community.
In the short weeks that have passed since, we have gathered community, continued to provide healing spaces for Black folks, and most recently hosted an impactful and fruitful Black community meeting. Now is the time to uplift solutions and resolutions crafted for and by the Black community. Our Black community is deserving of healing. Our Black community is deserving of space. Our Black community is deserving of a Santa Barbara that centers, uplifts and, invests in them.
This is not a moment; this is a movement. Join us.
Simone Ruskamp and Krystle Farmer Sieghart are organizers with Healing Justice Santa Barbara. Find them on Facebook @HealingJusticeSB.
Krystle Farmer Sieghart is a mother, wife, womanist, grassroots organizer, femtor, social justice warrior, and lover of black people, amplifying marginalized voices and building community. She majors in organizational leadership at Los Angeles Pacific University.
Simone Ruskamp is a Black woman who loves Black people. As the parent of a young child, she affirms the radical work of mothering and believes that all are needed to create the communities we deserve.