I expected that the Independent would not endorse my candidacy for the 4th District seat on the SBCC Board of Trustees. In fact, I informed Nick Welsh of that reality, adding that I respected him even more as a journalist. The fact that he would invest the time to meet and hear what I had to say, knowing how the endorsement would go — that’s good and fair journalism.
But I cannot accept the lead reason why the editorial staff cited George Floyd’s killing as the basis for their endorsements, insinuating that three of the candidates, myself included, are racially insensitive: “Three of the candidates now running for the City College board of directors get it, three do not.”
For those among you who did not watch Thursday’s Candidates Forum, hosted by The Independent, I would like to touch on two key points I made that evening to refute the above.
First, the moderator asked us to discuss the major issues facing City College. With only two minutes to respond, I chose to focus on just one, the one that is the most important issue facing our community and this nation. I called it “the human issue … racism in this country.” I made clear my opposition to racism, referencing the nation’s history going back to the Civil War, into Civil Rights, and today’s protests in our major cities.
I then stated, and I quote directly: “The greatest double-threat to minority communities is poverty and educational inequity.” I contrasted our nationally recognized community college with the abysmal achievement gap in our local schools. Just across from the college is McKinley Elementary where Language Arts Proficiency tested out at 29 percent; Math at 9.5 percent. That is unacceptable.
I then proposed an expanded partnership between the college and the local K-12 schools, so that SBCC prepares for them, and upon receiving their high school diplomas, our students are already prepared to step onto the City College campus, with confidence and in charge of their future.
Second, when I was asked how I would have voted on Resolution 18, the Black Lives Matter Resolution passed in June, I was again clear that racism has no place on the campus or anywhere in our country. I stated that I would have voted enthusiastically for Resolution 17, the DACA resolution. And that I would have done same for 18, if two words had been removed: “police brutality.” Two words, but two important words.
What happened to Mr. Floyd was evil. The video was telecast over and over, and Americans were rightly horrified by the scene, denouncing the actions that took place there. But I cannot sign my name to a document that extends the actions of one rogue cop who dishonored his badge and fraternity, to the overwhelming majority of law enforcement who put their lives on the line, are professional and compassionate. Cops leave their homes with a bulls-eye on their back. Their families live with that knowledge and the fear that their loved one may not return home.
As I concluded in my remarks Thursday night, it’s important to recall the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 9, 2018. Those were cops who were on stand-by and who then drove into Montecito to rescue strangers at great risk to their own lives. Men and women who had left their families in order to serve the community that depended on them.
I abhor the killing of George Floyd. I honor and respect the fraternity of blue. Those two statements are not in conflict.
I hope that voters will take the time to check out both candidates seeking the 4th District seat. Anna Everett and I are both worthy of your examination. Anna’s website is everett4sbcc.com; mine is celestebarber2020.com. If you haven’t yet watched the Indy’s Candidate’s Forum, the link is here. And thank you for voting.