By Gloria Partida
This week we saw the Milwaukee Bucks boycott after the shooting of Jacob Blake. This boycott was largely supported by the professional sports industry. It follows a growing trend of mainstream America moving to an acceptance of the idea that institutional racism has not been resolved.
It has not gone without notice that Colin Kaepernick’s boycott exactly 4 years to the day of this boycott was met with a very different response. Kneeling has since become commonplace and we can shrug the differences of the responses to the two boycotts off to Kaepernick being ahead of his time.
Or that people needed a minute to get behind the movement.
I question, however, whether there would have been such a strong reaction to Kaepernick’s boycott if had not been a boycott to the National Anthem. The National Anthem like many symbols has an emotional attachment to it, the psychology of which is complex and hard to untangle.
We have seen similar struggles in our own community over symbols. Whether it be the recent Black Lives Matter street mural, the police flag after the death of Natalie Corona or the Gandhi Statue in Central Park. We are deeply moved by fixtures that we believe stand for and represent our identities.
A perceived disrespect is an affront and rejection to many on a very personal level.
As a council, decisions that go beyond the standard and formulary are the most challenging because there is often community emotion involved.
This is highlighted in the two projects recently moved through the planning commission. The University Mall and The University Research Park.
While they are both CEQA streamlined because of the proximity to transit, both mixed use vertical, both initially exempt from affordable housing requirements one was resoundingly rejected by the planning commission. While we have yet to hear from the community I doubt that, even though some on the planning commission remarked on the look of this project, we will hear as many people come forward and protest the monolithic look of the buildings.
I know the reasons community reactions reach varying degrees of responses are not as reductive as this. The power of the voices that lead the response, the level of nostalgia tied to a project and degree of change all add up.
It is often difficult to see through emotion to greater good but I have great faith that our community’s character is not bound up in fixtures. That every generation will change and contribute to our community and maintain the thread of all the elements that make us unique.
From our inception as town that sprang from a meeting of railroad lines to host of an extension of the California University’s flagship, it is in our DNA to be forward facing.
Gloria Partida is the Mayor of Davis. This will be a monthly column.