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Let the most vulnerable members of community be heard

Let the most vulnerable members of community be heard

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May 25 will forever be engraved in our memories as the day that changed and tipped the world. The murder of George Floyd has sparked an outcry from millions across the world demanding justice for victims of police brutality, while simultaneously calling for changes to our local and national racist systems.

For generations, the United States has been revered as the promised land of opportunity — a beacon of hope for those seeking freedom and equality. With the current “pause on life” caused by another virus currently plaguing our nation, many are left sitting at home with their loved ones asking themselves: Freedom for who? Equality and equity for who?

As devastating as COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd have been, both have been catalysts for local communities, the nation, and the world to rise and demand change. The systematic racism and bigotry embedded in this country for centuries still drives inequity for Black communities throughout the nation, and for our LatinX, Black, LGBTQ, Immigrant and Indigenous populations here in Napa County.

Thus, the People’s Collective for Change (PCC) was formed — a grassroots organization heavily determined on pioneering work towards racial justice, an end to systemic oppression, and a community that reflects equality and justice for all.

Recently, several families living in the Browns Valley community were met with backlash after they had written various BLM messages with chalk on a neighborhood walking path. Someone defaced their messages with hateful white supremacy messages. When Rainbow Action Network (RAN) — another grassroots organization in Napa County working to build a more inclusive and equitable Napa County for LGBTQ children and families — reached out to PCC about the incident, both groups felt the need to step in, empower the community with love and support, and denounce the hateful acts.

While PCC’s method of operation for the last several weeks has revolved around protests throughout downtown Napa, we decided this protest would be different — in the form of art. Sometimes the best way to process our emotions is through art and the power of creative expression.

In collaboration, PCC and RAN called upon the community to come out on a Sunday morning to help spread messages of love, unity, and equality. People from all intersecting walks of life showed up with masks and chalk in hand ready to share positive messages and art supporting equality and the BLM movement.

That Sunday morning further illustrated how there is now a body of people rallying together to ensure they hold this community accountable — the residents, the visitors, law enforcement, and the elected leadership. As Maddi Van Zandt, one attending community member, put it: “More than anything, the Black Lives Matter revolution has given me hope for the community of Napa. Growing up here is a segregated experience. These events have introduced me to so many people that have the same goal—to make Napa a more inclusive and intersectional community. This fight can be discouraging, but when you do the work and in turn begin to build a positive, loving community, the future we want feels closer. And hopefully this message will reach others who may not feel the same way at this point. As an agritourism based economy, Napa thrives off the labor of people who do not have equal political and social rights. Napa has an international platform and should be an example of antiracism and sustainability.”

As we continue to move forward, PCC will ensure the most vulnerable members of this community have a platform to voice their concerns. We will continue to fight towards creating a socially and racially equitable environment for all who live in Napa County.

The Napa County website currently states they are “on a mission to serve our community and support its health and well-being … in which all people have the opportunity to experience fulfilling lives.” As a community it is our responsibility to ensure we hold our elected officials to these values. They must follow through on statements of equity and support and ensure policies are enforced when adopted. It is time for all of us to look at our county and completely revise the way we operate, what we choose to fund and focus on, and ensure all are held accountable.

We must protect and improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable and marginalized community members—farm workers, LatinX, immigrants, Blacks, LGBTQ, and youth. The People’s Collective for Change - in collaboration with Rainbow Action Network and other organizations working towards equity in Napa County - will continue their efforts towards equity, and empowering others in their community to rise up and speak out.

Black Lives Matter. Black trans and queer lives matter. Immigrant lives matter. Latinx lives matter. Free kids in cages. Justice for Vanessa Guillen.

Gabriela Fernandez

Napa

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