From the Editor – October 2017

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Hannah Brandt speaks at Community Alliance 2016 fundraiser. Photo by Richard D. Iyall, Cowlitz

By Hannah Brandt

It is easy for this political moment to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, where you keep waking up expecting it to be a new day only to find it is the same unbearable day every morning. Like Bill Murray attempts to do in the movie, many of us work to change our actions over the course of the day so that it can produce a different outcome, no matter how small. Often it feels like our blood, sweat and tears have no impact.

But no effort made is ever truly futile. A trace of the work done is always left behind and whether we see it in the moment or not, some gain is always achieved. Although most of us are what developmental psychologists call fixed learners who struggle to see failure as a learning tool, experiencing defeat is how we hone our skills and modify our strategies to make the next effort a success. Sometimes it can take many years. Even though it can feel like we are not making any inroads against injustice, we are.

Keeping up hope can be hard, but we take inspiration from those who do not give up. I think of those who have sat out or taken a knee in protest at NFL games during the national anthem to shine a light on the racist words in the full version of the anthem and their legacy in the continued institutional violence against African Americans. I think of the people with disabilities who have put their bodies on the line—bodies that in some cases have been violated by law enforcement—to fight for the right to healthcare for all Americans.

I think of the undocumented who have had the courage to speak out against the racist immigration policies of the Trump administration, including ramped-up ICE raids, continued calls to build a wall on the border with Mexico and revoking the protections for Dreamers and DACA recipients. I think of those who have resisted this administration’s attacks on the civil rights of Muslims after this president announced yet another plan to bar people from coming to this country due to their religion. I think of the brave survivors of sexual assault who continue to speak out against the forces that allow it to thrive even as our Secretary of Education has taken away protections finally achieved under the Obama administration.

I think of local activists who have confronted police departments who include officers guilty of brutality and even killing unarmed civilians. I think of the Fresno community members who at school board meetings have confronted the school board president face-to-face to denounce his bigoted remarks against the LGBTQ community. I think of people experiencing homelessness who have stood up against oppression, feet away from the City Council members who have adopted a brutal proposal to allow police to arrest people simply for their lack of housing.

You all give me strength to persevere when I think I cannot.

A few corrections… In the June 2017 edition in my interview with Dez Martinez I wrote, “Martinez says organizations do not need millions of dollars to do this work. She is doing this all on $377 a month.” To clarify, Martinez is able to live on $377 a month as an individual. She does not run the whole operation on $377 a month. I apologize for any misunderstanding due to my original wording of the article.

Last month, in the September 2017 edition, Project Shalom/Salam was incorrectly attributed to Fred Hall. It was submitted by an anonymous author. I regret the error.

And finally, in the article titled “Primarying Bad Fresno Dems Should Be a Priority in 2018” by Emily Cameron in the September 2017 edition, the items below relative to the paragraph on Fresno County Board of Education (FCBOE) Member Nelson Esparza require correction/clarification as follows.

  • Esparza is not a voting member of the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee.
  • The author states that Esparza’s campaign Web site “lists his support for charter schools as one of his accomplishments.” Esparza clarifies: “My Web site explicitly states that on the Board of Education, I am a member of the Charter School Review Committee—no position on the issue is listed. My Web site also states that I have been supportive of CTEC, which is a directive of and chartered by the FCBOE. The FCBOE has few direct students of its own, which are our court school students, special education and migrant education students. CTEC High School is an expansion for us and is chartered as our own public high school without any third party, but that’s just the logistics of how we have to open our own school. For the author to characterize my support of this incoming high school into my district as ‘support for charter schools’ is a gross misrepresentation at best and malicious falsification at worst.”
  • The author incorrectly references the timeline of the Esparza City Council candidate committee. Esparza clarifies: “The exploratory committee for City Council District 4 was terminated by Dec. 16, 2015. Much further down the road, when I was running for the FCBOE, I received support from several Democratic City Council members: Oliver Baines, Sal Quintero and Paul Caprioglio (the District 4 incumbent). The author has the time line wrong, which makes it look like I accepted a contribution from Caprioglio and then tried to run against him. This actually is an impossibility because the filing period for City Council closed well before the date of that donation.”