Human Rights Commission: the time has come for kindness in 2020

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – Humboldt County’s Human Rights Commission is launching a social media campaign to promote one of the most lauded yet at times elusive qualities of communication.

​The Kindness 2020 Campaign was described to the Board of Supervisors at its Jan. 7 meeting by Human Rights Commissioner Lelehenia DuBois.

Saying that “hate thrives in chaos but kindness opens us up to clear communication and positive action,” DuBois told supervisors that the Kindness Campaign has extended from the commission’s creation of an anti-hate committee in 2019.

​The goal is to combat hate speech, cyber-bullying and racism, DuBois said. She added that a renewed purpose – to “counter hateful acts with acts of kindness” – has redefined the committee as the Kindness Committee.

​Now the committee is issuing a “call to action” to the county’s political leaders, educators, media sources, businesses, law enforcement agencies and residents to take to social media and “post anything that supports kindness” with the #humboldtkindness hashtag.

Doing that and adding other relevant hashtags “gains a butterfly effect throughout social media, DuBois continued.  

​The campaign will be active on Martin Luther King Day as the committee’s members will do interviews with community residents and leaders at the NAACP’s celebration at the Adorni Center in Eureka, DuBois said. The interviews and a public service announcement will be recorded and aired by Access Humboldt public access TV.

​Supervisors were supportive of the campaign and Supervisor Rex Bohn related it to a hot-running recent controversy – the Terra-Gen wind power development proposal.

​Bohn acted as board chair when supervisors heard an appeal of the project’s rejection by the Planning Commission. He was the only supervisor voting to support the project and said he was the target of threats, including physical threats.

But he differentiated passionate speech from hate speech.

​“I want to thank everybody who came and talked,” Bohn said. “And even the ones who were loud, I don’t think they meant to be harmful, I think they meant to be passionate.”

​Supervisor Steve Madrone said personal change is the beginning of social change and added, “We all behave in ways we wish we didn’t at times but that doesn’t mean we can’t reflect and try to do better.”

​Board Chair Estelle Fennell lauded the idea of using social media for the campaign. “What we have seen is an erosion of kindness because of social media, unfortunately, so to turn that around and remind us that kindness actually works is a brilliant move,” she said.  

​“It’s really about your leadership showing all of us, whoever can join in, that we are kind and that we do communicate and connect,” said DuBois. “That’s how we create change, because we build on relationships and connections – which means that we have authentic communication.”

The meeting itself became part of the Kindness Campaign, as supervisors and county staff gathered for a photo that will be posted on social media with the #humboldtkindness hashtag.



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