Addressing Structural Racism in Santa Cruz County
After listening to Michelle Alexander present her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, several of us in the South Bay Facilitators Community formed a study group in 2013 to go deeper into the book.
Out of that, some of us looked to see how we could get engaged in the community at large, and be part of the solution in understanding and addressing this unjust state of affairs.
That’s how we learned about the Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), and joined their steering committee in 2013.
SCCCCOR is a small grassroots organization founded in 2009 to address Structural Racism in Santa Cruz County as a root cause of racial disproportionality and disparity within local public institutions. Its purpose and mission is to train and equip community and institutional organizers for justice to more effectively organize from an antiracist perspective. It provides educational training and workshops for community and institutional representatives in understanding racism and how it affects our communities.
We recently connected with World Trust Educational Services, a non-profit social justice organization that provides deep learning, tools and resources for people interested in tackling unconscious bias and systemic racial inequity in their workplace, community and in their lives, purchased a license to use some of their materials, and started to organize educational events in the Santa Cruz County community.
Since last November, we have produced three events around their film Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity. Each time the community response has been very positive, and has led to more requests to show the film. The latest is an invitation to show the film in May at the Watsonville Community Center, sponsored by the mayor.
On April 15, we conducted the workshop Raced in America: White Culture, Privilege and Bias with 40 community members in attendance. What stood out for me was people’s willingness to engage with the history and culture that have perpetrated and continue to keep in place a white supremacy mindset in our nation as a reflection of their courage to tackle difficult issues.
Overcoming racism is a slow process that demands resilience, humility, empathy and a joyous commitment to collaborate together across a wide range of personal leanings, backgrounds and histories. Participants demonstrated those qualities during the workshop!
Our group is looking forward to offer other workshops in the community based on the Racial Equity modules from World Trust.