July 16, 2021
This past year has shifted and tilted so much of our world. We continue to live through a global pandemic, along with the continued reckoning of racial injustice.
For the past 21 years in the Central Coast, Just Communities has been at the forefront of equity work in our community. In 2005, we began working with the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SB Unified), and since then have served over 2,500 administrators, educators, youth, and families through our programming. Throughout the ups and downs of the last 15 months, our courageous staff planned and organized a multitude of programs that served over 600 individuals; the Anti-Racist Educators Collaborative Group, Families for Inclusion, Diversity, and Access with Santa Barbara Charter School, virtual youth-led workshops covering mental health, and the Social Equity Summit, which brought 137 people from the Central Coast together to discuss concrete actions to fight racism. We also organized and ran several small in-person Learning Pods for families who were among the most affected by school closures and least able to assist their children with virtual learning and reliable internet access. This work continues with Adelante Charter School, through Campamento In Lak’ech, the first dual immersion summer program in Santa Barbara, currently serving 75 students.
Perhaps the most gratifying impact of our programs is helping families and students advocate for change towards equitable school policies and practices. Examples of concrete outcomes have been improved access to Advanced Placement courses for students of color, the creation of gender inclusive bathrooms, the development of school clubs that uplift marginalized student communities, and several policy changes, including to dress codes and disciplinary practices.
This work could not have happened without your support, help us match $25,000 by the end of August. We must raise an additional $25,000 to match our donor’s $25,000 challenge; if we fail to raise that full amount from you, our supporters, we will not be able to further our youth programs. Please help us achieve our goal.
In the past year, we have also taken a close look at everything we do and who we are, with a commitment to a more focused approach on dismantling racism, generally, and anti-Black racism, specifically. Of course, we continue to do all our work through an intersectional lens. Intersectionality is a framework developed by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw which acknowledges the fact that we all hold multiple identities and that they cross dimensions of race, class, immigration status/citizenship, nationality, ethnicity, gender, educational background, and language, among other aspects of who we are. During that time, we have also been fortunate to hire Gabrielle Felder as our Director of Research and Consulting. Gabrielle brings tremendous expertise in both anti-racism theory and practice and has been essential in several new partnerships and projects.
As schools take the lessons learned from the pandemic and start to create a post-pandemic school experience that also includes a greater commitment to equity and to anti-racist practices, we are poised to be at the forefront of that work. But we need your help to do so. Fair Education Santa Barbara launched a lawsuit against us and SB Unified in the fall of 2018, a lawsuit which at its core spoke of fear against teaching an honest history. This fight has now gone national, with communities addressing and discussing Critical Race Theory*, and what it means for their school districts and students. While we were successful in overcoming Fair Education Santa Barbara’s lawsuit, they have continued with a frivolous appeal which has prevented us from working with SB Unified since July of 2020. This has not deterred our work in continuing to move the needle of equity forward in our community, and with your help we can further our programs, grow our work with youth and families, and more!
Help us match $25,000 by the end of August, so we can fund our urgent and critical action programs! Donate online at www.just-communities.org, or by scanning the QR code below! If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for all your support, and with my warmest regards and my best wishes for your health and happiness,
Melissa G. Rodezno-Patrino
Just Communities Central Coast
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*“Critical Race Theory (CRT) is not a diversity and inclusion ‘training’ but a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship. Crenshaw—who coined the term ‘CRT’—notes that CRT is not a noun, but a verb. It cannot be confined to a static and narrow definition but is considered to be an evolving and malleable practice. It critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers. CRT also recognizes that race intersects with other identities, including sexuality, gender identity, and others. CRT recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past. Instead, it acknowledges that the legacy of slavery, segregation, and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color continue to permeate the social fabric of this nation.” American Bar Association, A Lesson on Critical Race Theory, January 12, 2021