Davis – A crowd estimated at 750 people in Davis—perhaps larger—comprised of children and community members of all races and ethnicities walked 2.6 miles on Sunday from Playfields Park on Research Park Drive to John Barovetto Park on Alhambra to honor the victims of racial injustice and police brutality, and to highlight the importance of talking to children early about race and racial prejudice.
One of the organizers, Nathalie Minya, said “Father’s Day takes on extra meaning when you consider all the Black fathers, brothers, and sons who have lost their lives as a result of systemic racism in our society.”
Claudia Sharygin called this “a moment of crisis and a moment of opportunity.”
A group of 12 women put together the event in a week’s time, with the logistics and planning to make an event of this size and scale happen.
“We are here to acknowledge the lives that have been lost,” Sharygin said. “The situation in this country where our group, African Americans and in particular African American men, cannot live in peace. We cannot live with the same level of comfort and security, lack of anxiety and lack of stress as the general population.”
She said this was true “even when folks are blessed with opportunities, education, privilege—all of that doesn’t matter when it’s late at night and someone is driving down a road and they’re a stranger.
“This issue of racism, of discrimination, it falls on us, because we are visible,” she continued. “We are the visible representation of the inequalities and the historic inequities in this country. Those inequities don’t only affect Black people and they are spreading.”
She said that over the last 30 to 40 years “we have set up an economic system through our choices and through our political inactions where we have safe, prosperous, healthy, well educated enclaves like Davis, and they’re shrinking and going away, they are exclusive and people cannot get in,” she said. “We have an in and an out.”
Another speaker, Jeremiah Johnson from the Sacramento group JUICE, came to work in solidarity “because we all have a common goal.” He said, “That common goal is fixing justice here in America.”
He told the crowd, “We’re going to keep it peaceful because at the end of the day, all we’re really asking for is peace.”
He said, “It starts at home. What you do here is good, however, if you’re not taking action besides the march, you’re not doing anything. Let that be known.
“Y’all are doing this for people like me. I travel the world through and through,” he said. “It’s very very scary for me to go to these small towns that I have to go to because they look at me like I’m ready to rob them. I have no criminal record. I have a son I’m doing this for, to make sure he’s provided for. All I’m trying to do is have my job. I thank you all for standing up for us—for people who look like me and people who look like you.
“I guarantee if they do it to me, they will do it to you,” he said.
Cindy Pickett, who is leaving the school board in a few weeks, said, “This is how change happens—getting a seat at the table.”
She noted about how decisions are made and how racism becomes systemic, that “it often happens through elected office.”
She said this is a family event, and people ask her what they should do about teaching children about racism.
“It’s easy to point out that racial slurs are bad. It’s easy to say that black face is dehumanizing,” Pickett said. “Those are very obvious forms of racism. What we need to be talking about and teaching our kids about is systemic racism. What that really looks like.”
Pickett asked the crowd to think about the war on drugs.
“That seemed like a good thing. We were talking about it in the 90s—we want to get rid of drugs, great,” she said. “But what drugs do they criminalize?”
She said, ask your kids what drugs are they criminalizing and “who is more likely to be incarcerated because of this law? Draw the lines through the dots. They can see this policy that on its surface looks benign, but in fact harms Black people, Brown people and people of color. That’s what we need kids to be able to recognize.”
She said, “Sometimes this means that you personally aren’t going to benefit.” She talked about how she had to fight for the pass-no pass policy this past term at Davis High “because the kids that don’t have the resources, who don’t have access to technology (are those) who are going to suffer.”
“Talk to your kids about racism, show them through examples at the dinner what systemic racism looks like, and tell them to be there and stand up for policies that protect Black and Brown people and promote equity and justice,” she said.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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