Letters to the Editor
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Our days begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Living and working for a year, in 1973, in a small city in Alabama gave me the opportunity to write and recently publish a book about two stories.
First, of the Whites in the revered traditions of living in modern and antebellum homes and plantations, landlords of large tracts of fertile land, members of elite garden clubs, all White social gatherings and reliance on Blacks to perform most of the manual labor. Second, of the Blacks who lived in homes with paper-thin walls, some without running water, living off the land, facing rampant racism, social injustice and little civic representation.
As 1973 drew to a close and my construction project was nearing completion, my wife and I realized the communities of White citizens were determined to continue the traditions of the Deep South and that second-class citizenship as a way of life for the Blacks. Whites thought of themselves as almost always superior in every way. More than once we heard the White comment, “Every little freedom you give away to the Blacks is one you won’t get back. No sir, you got to hold your ground.”
It was not an easy decision to leave that community as we had made some good friends and it certainly was affordable to live there. Yet we could not bring ourselves around to the idea of raising a family in a bigoted and segregated environment. Instead in 1974 we moved to this wonderful Bay Area and the Island City.
I am pleased that civil-rights activism today has led to important gains for Blacks in the legal, political, educational and employment areas. It’s a good start, but we do have a ways to go. There are still some states where Black children are confined to racially isolated, underfunded and inferior programs and our national criminal justice system disproportionally targets and incarcerates Blacks and criminalizes poverty.
You can read about my experience in Alabama in my new book, Three Thousand White People.
Let’s face it; global warming is a fact of life. The planet is warming and will continue to do so for many years even if we act as quickly as possible to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.
In other words, even if all the major economies in the world quickly come to their senses, the planet will continue to warm because of the green-house gases already in the atmosphere. Sea levels will continue to rise, droughts will be more frequent and more pervasive and fires will become more frequent and more damaging.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t move away from carbon-based energy as quickly as possible. The longer we delay, the greater the increase in carbon-dioxide level in the atmosphere, the greater the temperature increase and the greater the likelihood of eventual devastating damage to human civilization.
But aside from world-wide recognition and action to reverse global warming, we also need to recognize and deal with the consequences of the temperature increase that is already baked into the system. We need to recognize that this warming will lead to further increases in glacial melting and sea-level rise. This means that, regardless of what we do, all current coastal areas will be under water sometime within the next several generations.
While it is too soon to start evacuating coastal areas, it is not too soon to stop adding development and population to these areas. Continuing to develop coastal areas (of course including Alameda) is lunacy.
While Democrats vote in the presidential primary on March 3 they also have the opportunity to shape the direction of the Democratic Party at the grassroots level. The ballot lists 28 people vying for 11 positions in the Central Committee — a powerful group which controls endorsements and party funding for the next four years.
The current membership of this committee is, in my opinion, not at all representative of the constituency living in the area. Geographically, Alameda (with zero elected members) and Oakland are underrepresented (while San Leandro is overrepresented).
Ethnically, the committee does not come close to representing the makeup of the local area. This far down on the ballot there is very little public awareness, so I encourage Democratic voters to learn a bit about this organization and the candidates running!
Alameda’s own disability-rights activist Austin Tam is running to represent the party as part of “People-Powered Progressives” — PeoplePoweredProgressives.com — along with a diverse slate of 10 other community activists looking to make the local Democratic Party more responsive to its constituents. The committee is in need of a change of direction.
In the 2018 elections, the Central Committee — largely consisting of decades-long incumbents — generally endorsed the least-progressive candidates for local and state offices, and tried to silence progressive voices on important issues. The Central Committee is supposed to represent the grassroots, and act as a gatekeeper for all of the politicians in the area who want to represent us.
But over the years, that has turned upside down, and now the committee seems to exist to support and defend the politicians currently in power, against the interests of the people it should represent. Please vote for Austin Tam and the entire group of 11 “People-Powered Progressives” listed on the website mentioned above.
If you are registered as “No Party Preference” and wish to cast a ballot for the Central Committee members, and the U.S. President, please re-register to vote using RegisterToVote.ca.gov before Tuesday, Feb. 18.