Jul 1, 2020
by Elaine B. Holtz
A Personal Concern – Mandatory Masks
Do Mandatory seat belts or stopping at a Stop Sign take Away your freedom?
This month I thought I would devote a portion of the column to address a concern I personally have to share with my readers. June has been an amazing month filled with all kinds of challenges, a virus and protests calling for police reform over the killing of George Floyd. Floyd was killed by law enforcement in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month. For many of us it has been a lot to digest and overcome. People seem divided, scared, and some are ill informed by mixed messages from the President and various media outlets.
Due to the killing there have been numerous protests across the country including several in Courtyard Square in Santa Rosa. The protests have been huge and are creating an environment of change, at the same time are concerning, since we are in the middle of a pandemic and required to wear a mask and keep social distance to prevent the virus from spreading. This has caused a debate by some who claim wearing a mask is a violation of their freedom. It was stunning to me that people believe that wearing a mask to help stop the spread of the virus and to protect themselves and others was taking away their freedom. As I read and listened to their protest opposing masks, I want to ask those individuals if they believed that mandatory seat belts took away their freedom or stopping at a Stop Sign? Both are laws which are mandatory and if violated can be fined.
The most concerning part for me is, I believe that people are being influenced by a media that does not give or present adequate information and by a President who refuses to have a national plan for safety. What is even more concerning is that wearing a mask has become a political statement against a perceived government overreach in response to the pandemic. I understand that some are not wearing masks as a sign they support Trump. However, this is not a political issue it is a health issue.
We need to rethink that position and collectively follow the rules which are based on professional medical advice being laid out to help protect ourselves and others. I was glad to read that California’s Governor has made it mandatory to wear a mask in a public setting. A suggestion, if you want to get an idea of what losing your freedom looks like listen to this song, “By My Silence,” sung by Indigie Femme & written by Ellen Bukstel and Nick Annis. Remember wear masks when you go outside, wash your hands and practice social distancing. Getting sick is no fun and when you end up in the hospital you give up your freedom gladly, particularly if your life is in danger. Stay safe everyone, this too will pass.
Since March 2015 the North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) has been advocating to make Ethnic Studies part of the curriculum and a requirement to graduate High School. At the June 17th NBOP’s School of Change webinar, Santa Rosa City Schools School Board Trustee Omar Medina representing Area 4 in Santa Rosa, gave an overview of the importance of having ethnic studies in the schools and the need to do an extensive evaluation of the School Resource Officers, along with suggesting that these courses be a requirement for graduation. The district has a plan and is in the process of developing the curriculum for an Ethnic Studies and Multicultural Literature class which will be an elective for both high school and middle school students
Medina, who was elected to the board in 2018, believes having these courses gives students both a sense of history and sense of pride in understanding of one’s culture, “Given our current state of affairs, having an understanding of the plight of different cultures is more critical than ever,” Medina said. Also, according to Medina in implementing the program for Santa Rosa it will comply with AB-331, Pupil Instruction: High School Graduation Requirements: Ethnic Studies, which is being considered by the Assembly.
At the June 24th meeting the Santa Rosa School Board will take a vote to decide whether or not to make Ethnic Studies a requirement for graduation. I will publish the outcome in the August column. For additional information go to:http://www.northbayop.org/calendar/2020/6/17/ethnic-studies-school-resource-officers-santa-rosa-city-schools
The museum has announced that they are officially permitted to reopen their doors. The staff wants to thank their members and the community for their continuing support of the Museum of Sonoma County. There will be a soft opening for Members only on Wednesday July 1 thru Friday July 3 from 11:00am-5:00pm. The public reopening will begin on Thursday, July 9 with new hours*, The following exhibits have been extended: From Suffrage to #MeToo: Groundbreaking Women in Sonoma County, Extended through September 20, 2020 and Landscape: Awe to Activism, Extended through November 29, 2020
The museum is located at 426 7th St., Santa Rosa, Ca 95401, Phone #707-579-1500 and website, https://museumsc.org Open, Thursday-Sunday from 11:00am-4:00pm to public effective July 9.
Congratulations to the Juneteenth Committee for receiving from the City of Santa Rosa a Proclamation honoring Juneteenth with the last paragraph stating, “NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that I,Tom Schwedhelm, the Mayor of the City of Santa Rosa, on behalf of the whole council, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2020 as MARTIN LUTHER KING/JUNETEENTH DAY.” The Proclamation was accepted by Chair, Nancy Rogers and Vice-Chair, Elaine B. Holtz.
To celebrate this important day, there were several events across the county, and in Santa Rosa the Juneteenth Committee celebrated 50 years of presenting the event in our city. Prior to the pandemic the celebration took place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park in South Park, however because of the pandemic, the group decided to hold a Zoom celebration. I am on the committee and I want my readers to know I felt like a pioneer as we worked with this new popular media. An audience of over 200 people was able to enjoy the event and find out what Juneteenth is all about and why it is so important an event for African American people. The participants all had a chance to learn of the struggles and hopes of Black People.
A little History: Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. For the full history go to: https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm For African Americans Juneteenth is their July 4th, Freedom Day.
I want to do a shout out to all those who participated in this historic event: Nancy and Harold Rogers, founders;Sydni Davenport and thePrayer Chapel Singers;Dr. Kim D. Hester Williams who gave a great presentation, “Indivisible Allies: We Who Believe in Freedom Should Not Rest;” Tina Rogers did a presentation for children talking about the influence of African American’s contribution to music;Rubin Scott , President NAACP; Lee Pierce, President Black Chamber of Commerce, andGloria Robinson, founder ofPetaluma Blacks.
A special shout out to James Coffee who underwrote the event and his band, None But The Righteous, and to Andrea Miller for organizing a great Zumba presentation. It was so fun watching people on the screen dancing! Sabryyah Abudullah, host of Rebel Blues Radio and our go to man, Vince Harper, Director of Community Engagement at Community Action Partnership and the spirit of Evangelist Marteal Perry who had the first celebration in 1954 in Santa Rosa, helped make this successful. A special thank you to Eshawn Zuniga, Owner at Zuniga & Company for coordinating the zoom presentation and Nicole Rogers who developed the website and face book page. You can see the whole program on:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTYhTDouJiE or visit the website www.sonomacountyjuneteenth.com for historical information.
Something to think about:
“I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.” ~Harriet Tubman ~
Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.
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