I have lived in Santa Barbara County for 36+ years. I am the cofounder of a nonprofit serving students in Santa Barbara and Lompoc.
Violence in speech is harmful. On Tuesday morning, during your meeting, I witnessed someone use violent words to spit in the face of Wendy Sims-Moten, Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, Jordan Killebrew, and the African-American community. It was a moment that cannot be forgotten and has caused much pain. These are people that I call friends, that some of you call friends.
As a member of this community and leader in the Black community, I am asking that you start your meetings with a moment in Black history that speaks to the contributions African Americans have made to Santa Barbara County for the rest of February. Education is the correct response to ignorance, and you have a platform that can support education.
And please do not ask the Black community to come up with the significant moments to share — do your work. Acknowledgment is the first step toward correction.
This kind of hate speech only emboldens the white supremacists, and to dismiss it as another crackpot to be ignored is how our country has come to the current place. This fall, we spoke to Supervisor Hartmann about violence and threats — this must be directly addressed.
Last year you passed a resolution about equity and racial justice; today, you failed at the most critical moment. I believe you need to do deeper work. And I look forward to hearing what else you will do as leaders to move our community forward.
“Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.” —John Lewis.