On December 4, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, hosted its Annual Reception at the Canary Hotel for about 100 supporters. The Reverend Randall Day and Sarah Gluck Perez were honored.
After a lively reception in the lower-level foyer, guests gathered in the Riviera Room for a short, enchanting performance by Lois Mahalia, who also closed out the evening with a couple of songs.
Rev. Randall Day of St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church received the Ally of the Year Award for his longtime, enormous support of marginalized communities in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Ventura County English teacher Sarah Gluck Perez received the Educator of the Year Award. She was recognized, according to ADL Executive Director Dan Meisel, because of the breadth of her impact in helping students facing structural and social challenges.
With the unfortunate presence of hate in Santa Barbara, along with the rest of the nation, the ADL provides a valuable, though underutilized, resource for the community, both for preventative action and for post-incident response.
In the past year, ADL provided anti-bias workshops in the Tri-County area, including to Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) faculty and to SBCC’s Early Childhood Education Program students. It provided workshops for parents in the Goleta Union School District and was quite active in Ventura County.
While ADL is known for its work countering anti-Semitism, these workshops are about all forms of bias and racism, exploring issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Overall, these programs reached 919 educators, 575 community members, and 100 students.
Since schools returned to in-person classes, ADL has revived its No Place for Hate initiative, which currently runs in 13 schools in the Tri-County area, but only one of those is in South Santa Barbara County: Monte Vista Elementary School. Under this initiative, ADL acts as a resource for educators and students in their efforts to combat bias and bullying and provide environments where all students feel they belong.
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According to Meisel, teachers in the Tri-County area regularly use resources on ADL’s national website about anti-Semitism. However, he laments that other than in Ventura, few districts are seeking programming or information about anti-Semitism specifically. In these times of rising anti-Semitism, Meisel reflects, the topic is surely arising more generally in classroom conversations, and he hopes that educators will make use of the ADL to better understand the issue and be better equipped to facilitate conversations about it. According to Meisel, “With more understanding of Judaism, anti-Semitism, and, frankly, all forms of bias, we can proactively prevent many troubling incidents from occurring rather than having to respond to them.”
In response to recent anti-Black incidents, Santa Barbara Unified School District is conducting a racial climate survey and, according to Meisel, will then determine whether any ADL programming is appropriate.
In addition to working with schools, the ADL this year also has made many presentations to community groups on anti-Semitism and on the rising trends of hate and bias.
ADL records hate incidents and so far this year, there have been 60 credible reports in the Tri-County area, including 28 involving anti-Semitism and 18 that were racially motivated. Anti-Semitic incidents included slurs hurled at an individual and graffiti at bus stops, a bike path, and public parks. There were racial slurs at schools, an anti-LGBTQ physical attack, and the stealing and burning of a gay pride flag from a church.
In South Santa Barbara County (including Santa Ynez Valley), there have been 19 reports: 11 anti-Semitic, five racial, two LGBTQ-related, and one other. Reports come from the public, law enforcement, and media. Meisel strongly suspects incidents are under-reported and points, for example, to hearing from S.B. city officials that swastika graffiti is common in local public parks.
ADL’s national Center on Extremism provides data and reports on trends and research on extremist groups. ADL S.B./Tri-Counties and ADL Los Angeles together meet regularly with law enforcement representatives in Southern/Central California to share information.
For more info, go to santabarbara.adl.org.
For coverage of other events, go to independent.com/society.