OUR VISION

 


 

OUR MISSION​

 

Just Communities envisions an
equitable and inclusive Central Coast where
all people are connected, respected, and valued.

Just Communities advances justice by
building leadership, fostering change, and
dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression.

OUR WORK

Just Communities offers cultural competency training to organizational leaders, education seminars for the general public, leadership training institutes for students and teachers, and customized consultation to local agencies for diversity and organizational change initiatives. Just Communities consciously works with people from a diverse cross-section of the community along the lines of race, income, gender, sexual orientation, age, and religious affiliation.

 

Our expertise in human relations uniquely positions us to serve people and organizations in the education, health care, non-profit, government, and business sectors. The breadth of our vision statement to "ensure that all people are connected, respected, and valued" does not limit our service to a single constituency. Whether we are training health care providers on cultural competency, facilitating a diverse collaboration of service providers to address youth violence, or empowering at-risk teens as leaders in their schools, Just Communities continues to bridge differences among those of diverse backgrounds and cultures to strengthen the local community and advance social justice.

CORE VALUES

Our Core Values are guidelines for Just Communities staff and board and anyone who engages in our work. They explain what we stand for and what our work strives to address, both internally and externally among our staff and within the community. Our Core Values connect our intentions with actions. They serve as a framework for us and the community to hold our work accountable and to keep us grounded in an anti-racist approach rooted in radical love for ourselves and the communities we serve. 

Understanding race1 is foundational to diversity2, equity3, and inclusion4 work.

  • Racism is a normalized aspect of society and is embedded in all of our systems and institutions not only in the US but globally. Racism is not a “few bad apples” but is a structural and institutional phenomenon. Systems are made of people and Just Communities’ work focuses on both the individual and systemic manifestations of racism. 

  • 1Race - Race is based on the assumption that individuals can be divided into groups based on their phenotype (Burton, 2010). Phenotypic characteristics that determine race include (but are not limited to): skin color, hair texture, body type/weight distribution, facial features (nose, jaw line, lips, etc), height, etc. The relationship between phenotype and society determines how an individual is racialized (ie how they are categorized). This relationship is ongoing and constantly shifting depending on the context. Racial categories that remain consistent across borders are the most entrenched in global social structure (see anti-Blackness). Examples of racial categories include Black, white/Caucasian, Asian, Native American/Indigenous American, and multiracial.

  • 2Diversity - “Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.” (UC Berkeley)

  • 3Equity - “Racial equity refers to what a genuinely non-racist society would look like. In a racially equitable society, the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race. In other words, racial equity would be a reality in which a person is no more or less likely to experience society’s benefits or burdens” because of their membership in a particular racial group (Aspen Institute).

  • 4Inclusion - “Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.” (UC Berkeley)

Our work is intersectional5, examining the interaction between identities through an anti-racist lens.

  • Our work employs race as a lens through which we can examine and understand the complex experiences of immigration, gender6, sexuality, disability, language access, and class.

  • 5Intersectionality - “Intersectionality is a theoretical framework that posits that multiple social categories (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status) intersect at the micro level of individual experience to reflect multiple interlocking systems of privilege and oppression at the macro, social-structural level (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism)” (Bowleg, 2012). The term intersectionality was coined by lawyer Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 in her paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum titled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”. 

  • 6Gender - "Gender is not a property of an individual or a body in and of itself by itself. Even the notion of gender identity as part of the self rests on a cultural understanding. Gender is a construction of two categories in hierarchical relation to each other; and it is embedded in institutions. Gender is best understood as "an institution that establishes patterns of expectations for individuals [based on their body type], orders the social processes of everyday life, and is built into major social organizations of society, such as the economy, ideology, the family, and politics."' (Oyeronke Oyewumi, The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourse)

We examine the colonial7 history impacting Santa Barbara and the various communities we serve, especially as it pertains to racism8 and xenophobia9.

  • 7Colonialism - Colonialism is the dominance and subjugation of one group by another for the purpose of economic exploitation (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Colonialism usually happens in tandem with imperialism (see imperialism). The key players in colonial regimes are “the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force” (Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism, pg. 33). Colonialism typically involves the invasion or military occupation of one nation by another. It can also include predatory loans and fabricated debt (ex. French economic relations with Haiti and West Africa).

  • 8Racism - Structural racism/institutional racism is a system in which public policies, institutional practices, and cultural norms work in combination to uphold racial inequity. Structural racism highlights the areas of our society that privilege whiteness over other racial group identities (see whiteness). Examples of institutions that privilege whiteness include the educational system (ex. European history requirements), medical system (ex. Health disparities), housing (ex. Redlining, predatory loans, mortgage valuation), professionalism (see Texturism), policing and prisons, etc. 

  • 9Xenophobia - Xenophobia describes the prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization of people percieved to be from other countries. Language, religion, race, ethnicity, accent/pattern of speech, and clothing are used to determine perceived nationality (see Racial Triangulation Theory).

Our work is led by BIPOC and/or queer staff because we believe no amount of academic training alone can replace the combination of research and lived experience. We also believe that academic research is critical to any anti-racist work. 

  • At Just Communities, we believe that those closest to the pain are best equipped to explain it. Our research is headed by a Black non-binary woman who draws both from her lived experiences as a Black, queer, woman and leading academic research in close collaboration with faculty at University of California, Santa Barbara in the departments of Black Studies, Feminist Studies, Sociology, and Chicano Studies. Our staff has a variety of experiences across gender, sexual orientation, immigration, race, language, religion, and class that make our research and work unique. We’re not just serving communities, we BELONG to those communities. 

  • Our pricing for consultation work, language justice reflects not only the amount of labor required for BIPOC folks to educate others about their experiences but also reflects our understanding of the economic marginalization of our communities. Our labor, work, and experiences deserve to be valued. 

  • Education is fundamental to anti-racist work. As staff, we are constantly researching and drawing from the work of university faculty and race, gender, class, and immigration theorists.​

To contact our office call 805.966.2063 or email us at info@just-communities.org