SCNA board endorses Proposition 16 to remedy racial injustice statewide

The SCNA board has taken the unusual step of endorsing a statewide initiative on the general election ballot, Proposition 16. It would repeal Proposition 209 from 1996 and allow state and local governments to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in taking affirmative action to address historical discrimination.

“That discrimination was pervasive and included segregation of our local neighborhoods,” the board said in its Oct. 7 resolution urging a “yes” vote.

“It led to economic and social disadvantage for people of color that has endured until the present. Proposition 16 will allow state and local government to act to redress this inequity.”

The adoption of the resolution is the latest in a series of steps by SCNA to advance racial justice in response to the killing in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis as well as police killings of other people of color.

In June, the board issued a statement of solidarity with “those who have marched and who will march in protest peaceably in support of an end to racial injustice and inequity.” SCNA pledged then to demand “greater focus and progress on the substantive changes that are badly needed in our social and civic structures to achieve real and tangible equity and justice for all.”

That statement led to the formation of SCNA’s Ad Hoc Committee for Racial Justice, which has studied a number of suggestions to increase knowledge about racial injustice and for action to help make change toward social equity and racial inclusion.

The ad hoc committee hosted a two-part webinar discussion. The first session, on Sept. 24, related the history of racial segregation in our neighborhood, in part through the experiences of neighbor Ginger Rutland’s family in trying to pursue the “American Dream” of home ownership in the face of racism. It also examined the results of segregation, specifically the enduring economic and social disadvantages for people of color that result from excluding them from the engine of American middle-class wealth generation, ownership of high-quality homes.

The second webinar session, on Oct. 1, examined implicit racial bias. It was led by our neighbor, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood.

She pointed out that many of us benefit from a system of racial segregation, even if we do not intend to. She suggested it is inappropriate to remain passive in that context. Instead, she said we need to examine what we can actively do to remedy the continuing effects of a racist system – by our own actions and through the organizations and networks to which we belong.

Members of the Ad Hoc Committee for Racial Justice asked the SCNA board to adopt a resolution supporting a “yes” vote on Proposition 16. After discussing the history and the extraordinary gravity of the issue to the peace and wellbeing of our society, the SCNA board agreed.

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