Letters to the Editor, February 14, 2018

McKinleyville confronting race issues

For many, McKinleyville is a vibrant and welcoming community.  We are the McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity, a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that this is the case for all residents and visitors. We believe that by engaging our neighbors to focus on the issue, we can solve it together.

This Alliance was born out of a McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) discussion about racism. During the July 2017 McKMAC meeting, the room was packed primarily with people of color, many of whom recounted painful stories of racist behavior by neighbors and experiences of institutional racism in organizations.

Other commenters explained how the racism they experienced locally was less overt and lingered beneath the surface of day to day personal encounters.

To be sure, some McKinleyville residents were surprised, even shocked, to hear these stories.

Many white residents simply had not experienced or witnessed acts of racism, or in some cases, failed to recognize the more subtle and common forms of discrimination that add up to feelings of disrespect and unwelcome.

As one speaker put it, “if you haven’t seen a shark, it’s because you haven’t been scuba diving,” illustrating that cultural identities shape each individual experience. Since that first meeting at the McKMAC, white nationalists have held marches across the nation and incidents of racism have been reported locally.

Clearly racism is real and begs to be addressed at both a national and local level.

After the meeting, motivated community members formed what is becoming the McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity (MARE). Our goal is more than to simply ensure that everyone feels safe in our community – our goal is equity in treatment and opportunity for everyone in McKinleyville.

We understand that racial equity work is slow and difficult, but are committed to creating a better community.

In recent months, the MARE has reached out to various organizations representing people of color. Individuals in these groups have patiently taken the time to share their experiences. It has been disheartening and unsettling to hear so many stories about how McKinleyville is actively avoided because of real experiences, safety concerns or simply because of our community’s reputation.

We aim to change that – not just the perception, but the reality. We are working collaboratively to better understand the experiences of people of color in our community and we are resolved to work hard for change.

We are listening, reflecting and learning to engender a deeper understanding of racism in its many forms in our community.

We can’t promise things will change overnight. But we do want folks inside and outside of our community to know that McKinleyville is working to improve itself and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

We are participating in professional development, planning activities to bring community members together, and inviting diverse community members to the table.

Contact us at [email protected] to join the email list and get more information.

Submitted by Craig Tucker on behalf of the organizations and individuals of McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity;  Aila Gilbride-Read, site administrator,  McKinleyville Community Health Center, Open Door Community Health Centers;  Brea Olmstead, director of member services, Open Door Community Health Centers; Brigit Fraga, McKinleyville resident; The Rev. Deborah Haffner Hubbard, co-pastor, Grace Good Shepherd Church, McKinleyville; Dennis Mayo, McKinleyville resident; Diane Des Marets, member of NAACP; Holly Scaglione, health resources manager, Open Door Community Health Centers and faculty member, Social Work Department, Humboldt State University;  Jan Schmidt, superintendent, McKinleyville Union School District; Julie Giannini Previde, principal, McKinleyville Middle School; Mary Burke, McKinleyville resident, McKinleyville Family Resources Center; Roger Macdonald, superintendent, Northern Humboldt Union School District; S. Craig Tucker, member of McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee, Two Feathers Native American Family Services; Virgil Moorehead, Big Lagoon Rancheria

Statue removal a dumb idea

Dear Mayor and Councilmembers of the Arcata City Council:

There was a very good piece about McKinley in the Mad River Union.  The article pointed out that McKinley was the only president among Roosevelt, Taft, and himself who had experienced going to war and it effected his approach to foreign relations and diplomacy.  The ideals of Arianism were on the rise throughout northern Europe at the time and it caught on in this country too.

We can sit here and view the past from our 21st century enlightened superiority. Teddy Roosevelt wanted to attach and annex Mexico until he realized the place which was filled with brown skinned people.

Anyway, removing the statue is a dumb idea and you should all come over to McKinleyville and see what we’ve had to do with our band platform, it’s a symphony in chain link fencing.

Sherry Eaton, M.A.
Vice-President, Arcata Historical Sites Society

I am you. You are me.

Maureen here. For 70 years I have been living on and loving our glorious Mother Earth. Most of my time has been spent in trying to understand who I am and what on earth is going on?!?

Why would our species harm ourselves or any life? This is senseless behavior that does not – or should not – feel natural or good. This is behavior that should feel wrong because it is wrong.

I have come to understand why it is possible for any of us to be honored and celebrated for our capacity to do harm. A statue of William McKinley has held space in Arcata’s town square for over 100 years. Our species is facing possible extinction. I see these two facts as closely related.

As I understand it, at some point in our evolution, we took on a belief that is not true. We believed that we are separate from and superior to all other life forms. When that lie felt natural and true we were able to accept other lies as truth. We allowed ourselves to have the belief that some of us are of more value than others.

It is clear to me that if we are to survive as a species it will be because enough of us understand and will not only allow, but insist, that the truth of our existence be uncovered and revealed. Fortunately, even though we have strayed from it, the truth has never stopped being true.

Spirituality, philosophy and science intersect with the knowledge that the deepest truth is the fundamental truth of unity. I have felt this truth running through every fiber of my being. I am hoping you have felt it too.

I am you. You are me. We are a part of a whole; a Oneness. This truth naturally puts love and goodness at the forefront of existence. Where it belongs.

I have come to understand that no one would harm anything unless they were confused about what it is to be a human being. I am aware that I have done harm in my own confusion. I am now willing to pledge allegiance to the truth of Unity.

I recently came across a simple graph which clarifies right from wrong:

I am sometimes able to feel that when all wrongs are righted we will finally have Peace on Earth.

Maureen Kane

System reforms are working

(The following letter was submitted in response to the article “There’s good news for Mack Town, and plenty of challenges” in the Jan. 26 edition of the Mad River Union. – Ed.)

This may be an inconvenient truth for critics of recent, successful reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, but according to a recent report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, overall property crime rates in California between 2010 and 2016, a time period that encompasses a number of recent reforms, including Public Safety Realignment and Propositions 36, 47 and 57, have actually gone down by more than three percent.

In Humboldt County particularly, property crime between 2010 and 2016 went down by 8.3 percent overall, including a whopping 30.2 percent reduction in burglary and a 7.8 percent decrease in larceny theft. There are certainly local variances – of the state’s 58 counties, 34 have seen decreases in overall property crime since 2010 while 24 have seen increases. But the data makes clear shifts in crime are driven much more by local experiences and responses than only one statewide policy.

Nearly two-thirds of California voters approved Prop. 57 in 2016 because they know that the vast majority of people currently incarcerated in the state prison system will one day be released. By voting to create a system of incentives to complete rehabilitative programming while they are incarcerated, we are helping to ensure that folks coming back to the community after a period of incarceration are better and not worse, something that makes us all safer.

Criminal justice reforms like Proposition 47 have begun to bring balance back to a system that for far too long invested too much in incarceration and not nearly enough in local treatment and prevention programs that actually address the causes of crime, such as addiction and mental illness, and which help prevent crime before it occurs.

Proposition 47 has not only reduced the state’s prison population, it has also already produced more than $100 million in savings that have been reallocated to crime prevention and public safety programs in local communities up and down the state.

Criminal justice reform in California is working and we must stay the course.

Will Matthews
Public Affairs Manager, Californians for Safety and Justice

Our Superior President

I believe after one year in office that Donald Trump has earned the title of “Superior President.” The first indication came right after his inauguration. Despite photos clearly showing the contrary, Trump declared he “had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches,” a declaration that was strongly supported by his representatives when challenged by the press. Then, over the summer it was rumored that Secretary of State Tillerson had called him a “moron,” so Trump challenged him to compare IQ test scores adding “I can tell you who is going to win.”

Similarly, when North Korean leader Kim Jung Un stated he had a nuclear button at the ready, Trump quickly responded that he too has a button, “but it is a much bigger and more powerful one.” When Trump was recently accused of racism for allegedly making disparaging remarks about immigrants from some poor predominantly non-white countries, he defined himself as being the “least racist person,” a phrase he has used many times before when such accusations were made. And finally we find Trump gloating about his perfect score on a mental cognition test. He implied his score shows he’s smart even though the test is limited to measuring basic mental skills in order to detect mild cognitive impairment that could indicate the onset of dementia for instance.

Given all these examples of his evident “superiority” (and I’m sure there are many others), I think that along with his title “Superior President,” Trump deserves a theme song as well, so I nominate from the musical Annie Get Your Gun  Irving Berlin’s duet “Anything You Can Do(I Can Do Better)”. Of course, if he were to adopt it, he would need to find someone who would dare to sing the second part with him. Yes he can, no he can’t!

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake


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