We Demand Better for Our Black Children

Racism and Assault at Santa Barbara Schools Is Unacceptable

Santa Barbara Junior High School | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

We, Healing Justice Santa Barbara, and the individuals and communities that have signed our petition, believe in Black children. As a Black-led and Black-centered organizing collective, we have committed ourselves to uplifting and affirming the most marginalized of Black people, which includes Black children. We pay special attention to Black children with disabilities, Black children of lower socioeconomic status, Black children of darker skin tones, and Black children who refuse to code-switch.

We uplift scholars like Brittney Cooper who remind us that White supremacists weaponized medical “knowledge” of gender and race to deny the existence of Black childhood to allow for the horrors of slavery and segregation. In response, Black scholars always wrote that they were advocating for “Black men, Black women, and Black children.” They added children in defiance. They added children In solidarity. They added “Black children” because they believed in Black children and that their existence should always be named and thus protected.

As a community of parenting people, caregivers, kinfolks, and play cousins, we demand better for our Black children. It is unacceptable that Black boys at Santa Barbara Junior High and La Colina were subjected to anti-Black racism and assault. It is unacceptable that the district is only now, after receiving public pressure, sharing that there have been 10 other racist incidents across seven campuses. It is unacceptable that Santa Barbara Unified School District has failed to address the rampant anti-Blackness across the district and has been slow to tell the truth about what really happened to these students. It is unacceptable that Santa Barbara Unified School District has attempted to minimize the harm caused by anti-Black violence and has not provided timely response to the impacted students and families as they seek mental health support. It is unacceptable that Santa Barbara Unified School District would issue a statement noting concern about 12 “race-related incidents” across seven schools and not specifically name confronting anti-Blackness as any of the attached action items. This erasure is violent.

Our children deserve better. We demand the following actions be adopted by the Santa Barbara School District in defense of Black children:

  1. The district must provide an accurate report and statement of the anti-Black violence happening across all of their campuses, and this report must be shared with the public, not just parents of the reporting school. This district must explain why these occurrences were not shared with the wider community in a timely manner and address any policies and practices that reward obscuring truthful and timely reporting.
  2. The district must provide access to culturally responsive, Black mental-health providers specifically trained in addressing race-based PTSD and racial trauma. The district must provide monies and support for the families to seek the support of an mental-health professional of their choosing.
  3. The district must complete a comprehensive investigation of the 12 aforementioned cases, and hold accountable teachers and administrators who were negligent.
  4. The district must invest and hire Black practitioners of restorative and transformative justice to work with students who have caused and perpetuated anti-Black harm
  5. The district must require that all non-Black families, caregivers, and students participate meaningfully in workshops and programming condemning anti-Black violence in all forms
  6. The District must invest in Black-led DEIJ consultants to create healing spaces for Black children and youth.
  7. The District must invest in Black-led DEIJ consultants to address anti-Blackness within the Latinx community.
  8. The District must hire more Black teachers and Black mental health clinicians at each campus.
  9. The District must invest in Black-led community organizations that are creating recovery and processing spaces for Black children and families.

We, Healing Justice SB, and the individuals and communities that have signed our petition, will not rest until Black children are protected.

Simone Akila, Krystle Sieghart, and Leticia Resch are among the founders and leaders of Healing Justice SB. Sign the community petition to demand the protection of Black children here.


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