July 2020 Newsletter
In this special edition of The Splash, WELL is taking a step back to reflect on the successes of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement this year, as well as acknowledge the work that still needs to be done across the country to ensure justice for all.
It is also important to remember that we cannot have climate justice without racial justice. Water quality and accessibility vary greatly depending on the color of one’s skin. To that end, it is our responsibility to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement and take action against racial injustices, for if we don’t, we’re not only harming our Black brethren, but also harming the future of our planet. We hope this month’s newsletter encourages you to join us on this educational journey.
Message from the Executive Director
As if the COVID-19 pandemic was not enough to keep our world in unprecedented times, we are now faced with civil unrest due to the racial disparities that are still very prevalent today. The civil unrest sparked from George Floyd’s unjust death took me back to when I was 18 years old.
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, the 1992 Rodney King uprisings took place just a few blocks from my home. I saw my neighborhood in flames and the National Guard enforcing curfews to bring order to an already broken community. It is extremely difficult to see this again now as a grown woman with children. My children now see the underlying truth that has ignited a new movement: Black Lives Matter. I stand together with my Black brothers and sisters to support them. Everyone can be part of this by simply educating themselves– and most importantly their children– to break the chain of racism. I am doing this myself by educating my children on systemic racism facing Black lives and having them protest with me in our hometown of Downey. We chanted together “No Justice No Peace” with hundreds of other protesters. At WELL, we feel similarly that without justice, there will be no peace in our communities. We will continue to be a vehicle of support and education to our constituency to be a part of a systemic change. This special Black Lives Matter edition of the WELL newsletter aims to support this effort.
When it comes to racial justice, it is important that everyone understands the language of activism and can use such language properly. Racial Equity Tools recently published a list of common vocabulary used in activism and racial justice. We’ve listed some notable words and phrases below, but to see the entire glossary, you can go to their website here.
- Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways.
- Anti-Racism: The work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.
- Black Lives Matter: A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters.”
- Implicit Bias: Negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Also known as unconscious or hidden bias.
- Institutionalized Racism: The ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.
- Intersectionality: Exposing [one’s] multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.
- Microaggressions: The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.
- Privilege: Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we’re taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.
- Racial Equity: The condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. By eliminating policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them, we are working to address the root causes of inequities.
- Restorative Justice: The theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense.
Education for Racial Justice
There are many ways to learn about issues related to racial justice and violence against Black lives. While the list below is by no means exhaustive, it can hopefully serve as a starting point to learn more and get more involved with racial activism in your community.
- Anti-Racist Reading List
- Guide to Allyship
- Black Lives Matter Healing Justice Toolkit
- Trayvon Taught Me Toolkit: For Black and Non-Black POC Organizers
- California State Assembly Democratic Caucus Inclusive Books for California Kids
Action for Racial Justice
Once you’re ready to get involved, you will find endless ways to take action. Feel free to refer to the list below to get started.
First, there are two Black Lives Matter chapters in California.
Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles
- Website: BLMLA.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/BLMLA
- Instagram: instagram.com/BLMLosAngeles
- Twitter: twitter.com/BLMLA
Black Lives Matter, Long Beach
- Website: blmlbc.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: facebook.com/Groups/BlackLivesMatterLBC
- Instagram: instagram.com/BLMLBC
- Twitter: twitter.com/BLMLBC
There are also many places to donate.
Funds to support families of those impacted by police violence
Donate to Black Lives Matter
WELLos Step Up for Black Lives
Many of our WELLos have stepped up their leadership to respond to the police violence that has impacted the entire nation. We commend these WELLos for their dedication to Black lives in the cities and communities they serve.
Emma Sharif, Council Member for the City of Compton, UnTapped Class of 2020, has been working with her colleagues and the Sheriff’s office to allocate funding for body cameras for Compton-area law enforcement. Councilmember Sharif believes that enforcing a body camera standard will increase the accountability and safety of law enforcement officers and residents of the City of Compton.
Carmen Ramirez, Council Member for the City of Oxnard, UnTapped Class of 2018 and WELL Advisory Board Member, helped her city pass Resolution 15354, condemning racism and declaring policy brutality a public health crisis. The resolution included language that Black lives matter, and that the Oxnard Police Department will continue “sound and anti-racist law enforcement policies that address police brutality.” To read more about what Council Member Ramirez is doing with her City to combat police brutality, click here.
Igor Tregub, Commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, UnTapped Class of 2020, worked with fellow board members pass Resolution 20-12, where they recognized the Black Lives Matter movement and stated that all politically held positions in the City need to “actualize the reform of institutionalized racism immediately…” and demand that the Berkeley Police Department put an end to racially biased policing and violence. In his personal time, Commissioner Tregub has also been active at BLM protests across the Bay Area.
Diana Mahmud, Council Member for the City of South Pasadena and WELL Advisory Board Member, issued a statement alongside her colleagues expressing solidarity with the fight against racism and oppression. The statement also came out in support of the peaceful protests against injustice. The City of South Pasadena library published a collection of books in honor of Juneteenth and Black Lives Matter. Councilmember Mahmud also shared with WELL that the South Pasadena Police Department has eliminated the carotid hold from its policies. The City Council also established an ad hoc committee to examine the Police Department’s practices.
Peter Chan, Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Monterey Park, UnTapped Class of 2018, worked with his colleagues to draft and pass Resolution 12174, re-establishing the City’s commitment to stand in solidarity for racial and ethnic equality and fair treatment. In this resolution, the City Council encourages the “peaceful exchange and discourse to enact change and move toward a future with more equity and inclusion in the City of Monterey Park, California, and our country.”
Eduardo Martinez, Council Member for the City of Richmond, UnTapped Class of 2018, participated in the painting of a Black Lives Matter mural in Richmond. He, along with his City Council colleagues, have plans to pass a resolution demanding investigations into violence against women in the military and to highlight the demands of the tent city formed on the City Plaza in Richmond.
WELL Webinar: How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Water Sector?
The COVID-19 pandemic has vastly changed our way of life, especially as it relates to water. Rate payers across California have struggled to keep up with their water bills, sparking a statewide utility-shutoff moratorium. At some water facilities, engineers are quarantining on site 24/7 to keep water flowing while maintaining their individual health and safety. All over the state, water infrastructure projects and conservation efforts have had to be paused or cancelled altogether as water districts and cities face shrinking budgets. In this upcoming WELL Webinar, we invite a team of expert panelists to examine what these various impacts are and what lasting effects they may have on the water sector overall.
You can register by clicking here!
While it is our priority to make our educational content free and accessible for all, WELL is funded in part by your generous donations. Please consider supporting this WELL Webinar by making a donation as part of your registration. Our suggested donation amount is $25, but we will gratefully accept anything you are willing and able to give. You can donate by clicking here. Every dollar counts, and we appreciate your support!
Please register and donate today!
WELL 2020 Virtual Conference: Save the Date!
Mark your calendars! We are excited to announce that we will be hosting this year’s WELL Annual Conference virtually on Friday, November 13, 2020. Stay tuned for more details and registration.
California Water News Highlights
Worried that you may have missed some important water news this month? WELL’s got you covered. Here is is a sample of noteworthy water news for the month of July.
Nation of Change: There is not climate justice without racial justice
GV Wire: Pandemic, Water Costs, Consumer Behavior Lead to $2 Billion in Ag Losses Thus Far
Patch: $130M CA Commitment To Safe Drinking Water
CalMatters: Affordability must be a priority as California charts a course for economic recovery
American Water Works Association: National survey shows high confidence in U.S. tap water, lower satisfaction among Black, Hispanic respondents
City of San Joaquin Councilmember Jose Ornelas passed away suddenly on July 19, 2020. Jose was a member of our first UnTapped Fellowship class in 2018, and has played a pivotal role in WELL leadership over the years. We are all shocked and saddened by this tragic loss, and hope you are able to take a moment to think about him and his family. To honor the Councilmember, we created a photo tribute to reflect on our wonderful memories with him. Jose will always be remembered for his generous smile and passionate dedication to his community in San Joaquin.
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Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) educates local Latino elected officials on California water policies to promote timely and equitable actions that strive to develop a robust economy, healthy communities, and a resilient environment for all Californians. Visit our website: www.latinosforwater.org.