By Folake Phillips
It was such an honor for me to speak on November 14 at the recent United Against Hate Rally for peace and love organized in partnership with the Town of Los Gatos. I was extremely proud to see our community come together to take a stance against hate and to witness a moment of unity.
Diane Fisher (Executive Director of Jewish Community Relations Council) gave the welcome address and introduced each speaker. After Mayor Sayoc had addressed the crowd, Senator Cortese, DA Rosen, Mike Wasserman (President, Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara), Dr. Jennifer Briscoe (LEAD Filipino Board Member), Justin Jeong (representing Congresswoman Eshoo), myself, Bob Moore (Project Manager of San Jose Conservation Corps), Katherine Brezoczky (ASB President), Maya Segev (a junior at LGHS, Leadership Class and leader in B'nai B'rith Girls), Ariana Duckett (a senior at LGHS, president of GSA Club) and Jen Siraganian (Poet Laureate of Los Gatos) all gave their speech.
None of these speakers ever stood on stage alone while giving their speech. During my speech, when I stated a quote from Malcom X that “power never takes a step back except in the face of more power” -- I needed the crowd gathered together that day to understand what "more power" looks like. It looks like all the people there that day standing together in solidarity, unified and sending a clear message, through action, that silence is not an option. It looks like people there that day declaring collectively that racist and homophobic attacks on the elected officials of our communities, the defacing of school buildings and sidewalks, and bullying and hate of any kind will not be accepted.
As a community, we must now take things a notch or two higher by finding an active solidarity group or starting one. There are many here in Los Gatos, including LGARC (Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition), PACT San Jose, Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet, and S.U.R.J. (Showing Up for Racial Justice) for starters. This is why we are intensifying their efforts to commit to, and advance equity, inclusivity, and encourage people to speak up and share their stories.
Here at AWỌ, we are currently in the process of pioneering “Stories In Schools,” a groundbreaking social justice hackathon for unpacking and understanding bias at the intersection of Class, Color and Culture. As the social unrest around Black Lives Matter has shown during the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have implicit or pre-conditioned biases, especially around not just skin color, but also class and even culture. “Stories In Schools” will train high school students to be global minded and socially conscious citizens and will be prototyped at LGHS for the 2021-22 school year.
Because of the pre-existing social disparities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal can no longer just be to get back to “normal.” Instead, I urge you to get involved, spread the word and let us make our Town of Los Gatos safe for everyone - a town I envision for my children, your children, all our children.
Let all of these civic actions and stories truly become ”Our Community. Our Story.”