Race

Sheriff’s Office releases report on systemic racism in San Luis Obispo County

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Friday the sheriff’s office released a report on systemic racism in San Luis Obispo County. They did so on behalf of the Unity Committee which was formed a year ago to help identify issues surrounding gender, racial, religious and sexual orientation issues in the community and law enforcement.

After reading the report on systemic racism, President of the San Luis Obispo NAACP, Stephen Vines, says we need to unlearn racism as a concept and start talking about diversity in our community.

“The construct of race is not real. There’s only one race. The human race,” said Stephen Vines, San Luis Obispo NAACP President.

Vines says the issue they are up against in San Luis Obispo is white privilege in a predominantly white community.

“The value system of white privilege is so reinforced that nobody sees it anymore,” said Vines.

Vines says the San Luis Obispo NAACP is working on a diversity and technology think-tank with a 5-year goal of putting together a diversity program within the county to hire, retain and promote people of color in the workplace.

Rabbi Micah Hyman says this data collection is only the first step to creating a more inclusive, diverse community. Open conversations in a safe space and additional education about race and religion are the next things that need to happen.

“We need to have space for debate. If we can only say just the right things in just the right way or else there’s some penalization we’re not going to have the depth, the understanding, the mutual recognition of one another,” said SLO Hillel Executive Director, Rabbi Micah Hyman.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Commander Deputy Keith Scott says the Unity report was the Unity Committee’s first order of business and took one year to put together.

“So it’s a blended group of organizations that are typically champions of bringing the community together so now we’re a team,” said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Commander Deputy, Keith Scott.

Author of the Unity Committee report, Ryan Alaniz, says the report has a lot of benefits for the community, bringing to light issues that community members who are not the minority might not see every day.

“That’s really what we’re going for is deeper self-reflection. So people can know thyself, know themselves a little bit better and start to treat people differently,” said Dr. Ryan Alaniz, Author of the Unity Committee Report.

Hyman compares the fragility of the Sukkah in which we conducted our interview to the fragility of our community rebuilding and growing together.

“This is not an armored fortress. This is a fragile building. Peace is fragile and it takes constant tweaking,” said Hyman.

He hopes this report is just the start of our community broadening its horizons and being more inclusive.

“It only has 51 percent shade. You’ve got to see the stars. You’ve got to look beyond you. You can’t be in a bubble,” said Hyman.

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