The West View invited commentary from community members of color regarding the current protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis.
We need real accountability!
If unjust laws and policy allow an EMT worker to be shot in her own home, a jogger to be chased down by armed gunmen, or an officer to press his knee onto your neck until you can't breathe, then those laws and policies have got to be changed. We need some real accountability from our leaders and lawmakers, and actual reform that takes into account this country’s long history of treating black, brown, and poor people, as disposable.
– Ebay J. Hamilton, Glendale resident and D.J. at KRCL, 90.9 FM Community Radio
It Ain’t Over!
Our current era bombards us with information that can feel daunting to try and process, and the systems we live in do not encourage mindfulness. So, we have to be rigorous in our engagement with the information we may have access to. Some of the consequences of not being thoughtful is self-centered thinking and responses such as “what about us,” “what about this,” or “what if,” instead of being mindful of the actuality of “what is” and “what has been.”
What we hope is that we can better understand the importance and context of this moment. Our Black relatives are continuously hurting, and despite this, have enhanced all of our public lives and civil rights in their ongoing fight for justice, life, and liberation.
We feel it is important to learn and remember what has already been said and continues to be said by our Afro relatives in their work and legacy. We invite our friends, relatives, and other relations to STOP. LISTEN. THINK CRITICALLY. PROCESS. REFLECT. LEARN. CONNECT with what Black leaders, scholars, artists and community have been expressing, doing, and teaching for years.
– ‘Inoke Hafoka and Daniel Hernandez
Hafoka, Glendale native and son of Tongan immigrants, is a PhD candidate at UCLA in Education with a focus on race and ethnic studies. Hernandez, Rose Park native and urban diasporic Mayan (Wīnak) with several ancestries, currently lives in Tāmaki Makaurau (Aotearoa). He recently completed his PhD studies in Anthropology and is a lecturer at the University of Auckland.
Use your vote and your voice to bring about change!
I am very saddened by the death of Mr. Floyd and the many others who have needlessly lost their lives under a regime of systemic racism. I understand the frustration and anger now simmering in our nation and state. I encourage people to use their voices in a way that is productive to bring about change. I want everyone, of all ages, to get involved in changing the pathway ahead for our state and our country. Please register to vote. Voting will make a difference.
I, along with my other colleagues of color, look forward to working towards policy change to address the important issues we face with race and equality. We want to be that listening ear for our constituents and the catalyst for change our state urgently needs.
– Rep. Sandra Hollins, a Fairpark resident, representing District 23 in the Utah State Legislature
Why We March
Racism has been a plague affecting our nation for centuries, but sadly, we’re so accustomed to it that it has become our way of life. With the help of technology and social media, recent events have opened our eyes to a plague that is so deep, it will take centuries to overcome. However, we need to start and we need to start now.
This is the time for all Americans – Black, White, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and everyone – to stand up for justice.
This is why I co-organized a march and vigil from the U of U Institute of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to our State Capitol. While the gathering was meant to pray and remember those who have been so unjustly killed, it is also a time to act. As Latter-Day Saints, we believe that we are all children of God and right now our Heavenly Father’s Black children are being killed, marginalized, and silenced.
WE SAY NO TO THIS INJUSTICE!
– Madelaine Lamah, 25-year-old Salt Lake City resident, former Presidential Ambassador/intern under U of U President Ruth Watkins, and outgoing president of the African Student Association at the University of Utah.
I Hear Your Cry
I find myself in tears throughout the day, grieving over the injustice, grieving over the hatred displayed against men and women of color. Watching the video of George Floyd’s murder and hearing him cry out for his Mama did something to my soul. I saw my son under that knee, struggling to have a basic human right, the ability to breathe. I couldn’t stay silent.
I went and protested with my children on May 30 in downtown SLC. I wanted to stand with them, kneel with them, raise my fist in solidarity with them, all the while knowing I have a liberty they may never see; watching my children cry as they shouted “Black lives Matter,” knowing in my heart that they don’t – not to some people. All my children want is equality, justice, and to not fear for their lives – especially not from the men and women who swore an oath to protect them. As I cried out, “These are my children, their lives matter,” the officer in front of us began to cry. He could hear my voice, he could see our tears, and he could feel our pain. At that moment I knew he didn’t want to be seen as a threat, no more than my children want to be seen as one. At that one moment in time, he could identify with my 17-year-old daughter, who held a poster that read, “Does the color of my skin threaten you? Because your badge threatens me.”
I truly believe he understood what it felt like to be feared. He could see her little face with tears streaming down her cheeks. He could sense her anxiety as she watched more and more officers come out of the capitol. He saw her expression changing to panic as the crowd shouted “they are going to tear gas us,” and quickly changing as her cousin who stood beside her reassured her that they weren’t. He empathized with her in that moment as he did with me and when he could no longer separate humanity from duty he turned his head. Refusing to look at us any longer. I understood he had a job to do, and so did I.
My job is to use my voice, to speak up against injustice. To sign petitions that demand the arrest of all the officers involved. To get out and vote, so we can remove people in offices who don’t use their platform to create peace and unity or use their authority to punish those who dishonor the oath they took to serve and protect.
You may think I am speaking out of anger and hate. I tell you this. I speak from a place of love. There is no greater love on this earth than the love a mother has for her children. George cried out, “Mama, Mama”! When he did that, he cried out to every mother of a black son. I heard your cry, George. I hear you over and over again. I hear you in the voices of those who march, in the voices of those who chant, and in the voices of those who take a knee. All of them wanting the same thing. The ability to breathe freely.
– Laura Lucero, 48-year-old mother of Mexican/Italian heritage, is native of Glendale who raised her four bi-racial children there.
Equality and justice for all
We have all been impacted emotionally by the tragic murder of George Floyd. In 2020 Mr. Floyd died because he was black. Salt Lake City is no exception from racial injustice. People of color here still experience systemic racism. My heritage is Native American of the Akimel O'odham on my mother’s side and German on my father’s side. My children are mixed Native American, Mexican American, and African American. We’ve dealt with and witnessed systemic racism at school, work, and in the community. We have been racially profiled and harassed, particularly my oldest son who has the darkest skin color in our family. I wholeheartedly believe there is a need for protests in our community and worldwide to give voice for the vulnerable and people of color in our communities. I do not condone destruction of property and violent acts of any kind in the name of justice. I believe as a community we want equality. This will happen with transparency, addressing and recognizing individual biases, training to overcome the bias, and more. Systemic racism is complex, yet solutions are simple, if willing. I have hope our community will do what it takes to earn the trust of our vulnerable people and people of color for equality and justice for all.
– Juanita Washington, Poplar Grove resident, mother of six and grandmother of four
Seraph Young, a 23-year-old schoolteacher, made history when she cast her ballot in Salt Lake City’s municipal election on February 14, 1870. She became the first woman in the United States to vote under a women’s suffrage law.
The year 2020 marks three important anniversaries for women’s suffrage and voting rights: the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes in 1870, the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which extended women’s suffrage across the country in 1920, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed racially discriminatory voting laws in 1965.
These anniversaries offer an opportunity to honor the Utah women who worked for voting rights, and those who carried their legacy forward by working for social justice in other ways. Their stories inspire us to become more engaged participants in our own communities today.
Many Utahns are surprised to hear about Utah’s trailblazing suffrage story, but it’s true – women’s first votes with unrestricted suffrage rights happened right here in Salt Lake City! Wyoming Territory was actually the first to pass a women’s suffrage law, but Utah Territory followed just two months later. Due to the timing of elections, Utah women were the first to go to the polls, a full 50 years before women’s suffrage became national law.
As the first to vote, Utah women drew national attention. Suffragists hoped that positive results would help spread women’s suffrage elsewhere. Anti-polygamists hoped that women in Utah would use their political power to end the Mormon practice of polygamy. When it became clear that was not going to happen, many reformers started lobbying Congress to take away Utah women’s voting rights in order to put an end to polygamy.
Mormon women mounted a grassroots campaign to protect their voting rights (and polygamy) by starting a newspaper, The Woman’s Exponent, sending petitions to Congress, and forging relationships with national suffrage leaders like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
But other Utah women argued that their right to vote should be taken away until polygamy ended. Eventually, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887 that revoked the voting rights of all women in Utah, regardless of their religion or marital status.
Utah suffragists organized the Utah Woman Suffrage Association (UWSA) to regain the vote, with chapters in 21 Utah counties and many more towns. In the UWSA, women (and some men) met to sing, pray, discuss current political issues, and voice their support for equal rights. They worked closely with Susan B. Anthony’s national suffrage organization.
Unlike the rest of the country, Utahns generally supported women’s voting rights. When Congress invited Utah to apply for statehood, both political parties declared their support for women’s equal suffrage in the new state.
Still, at the 1895 Utah Constitutional Convention some delegates argued that including women’s suffrage in the proposed constitution might jeopardize statehood. Suffragists across the territory sent in petitions, and the pro-suffrage argument eventually won.
After the proposed constitution was overwhelmingly approved by Utah’s male voters and accepted by Congress, Utah entered the Union as the third equal suffrage state on January 4, 1896.
In that year’s election, the first where women could vote and run for office, Utahns elected three women to the state legislature and eleven to county offices. Salt Lakers even elected Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon as a state senator over her husband on the opposing ticket!
Many Utah women continued to work for a federal suffrage amendment. They attended conventions, gathered petition signatures, and staged parades and rallies. Two women from Salt Lake City, Lovern Robertson and Minnie Quay, even joined the National Woman’s Party in picketing the White House. The Nineteenth Amendment made women’s suffrage national law on August 26, 1920.
Even then, many women were not allowed to cast ballots. Discriminatory citizenship laws made Native Americans and Asian immigrants ineligible for U.S. citizenship or voting rights, and state laws often kept people of color from the ballot box. Utah women like Alberta Henry, the Salt Lake NAACP president, continued to work for equal rights and opportunities for all people.
Other Utahns carried this legacy forward in a variety of ways. Incarnación Florez was a curandera (female healer) on Salt Lake’s west side who provided spiritual comfort and physical relief to hundreds of people without accepting payment.
Edith Melendez was a fearless leader with a soft heart who fought against police brutality and advocated for better housing, economic, and educational opportunities for Utah’s Latinx community.
This next year, let’s remember these women and resolve to make a difference, too.
Illustrations by Brooke Smart. Courtesy of Better Days 2020
Better Days 2020 is a non-profit dedicated to Utah women’s history. To learn more about Utah women’s advocates and the history of Utah women’s voting rights, visitwww.utahwomenshistory.org. Follow us on social media @betterdays2020 to stay in the loop for upcoming programs and events!
Our six west-side community councils do an outstanding job of informing their communities, gathering input and creating a distinct sense of community.
However, local community leaders recognize that we can be more effective in taking on broader challenges impacting all west-side neighborhoods when we work together.
Two years ago we revived the Westside Coalition, whose mission is to “advocate for the health, safety and quality of life of west side Salt Lake City residents.”
The Westside Coalition brings together representatives from all six west-side community councils and other community organizations, such as NeighborWorks Salt Lake, University Neighborhood Partners, Rose Park Lions Club, West View Media, River District Business Alliance, and more, to advocate for our community.
Over the past two years, the coalition has provided a west-side voice to many issues and accomplished, as a group, what individual communities might not have been able to.
For example, we successfully organized the most-attended SLC Mayoral Candidate debate, and pushed for allocation of funds for a study of a proposed year-round public market at the Utah State Fair Park. The study was completed by the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, indicating viability.
The coalition also provides direct input to Envision Utah regarding Inland Port air quality and potential development impacts. We have also spoken out against the Beck St. Project, which is slated to erect 80 ft. towers through our neighborhoods, and we are supporting efforts to reduce crime along North Temple.
For more information or to get involved, find us on Facebook @westsidecoalitionslc.contact or contact Westside Coalition Chair Richard Holman at .
A major effort that happens once every 10 years is set to begin in March of 2020: the census. The purpose of the census is to count 330 million people living in the United States.
Why does the census matter to you and your community? Because the data collected is used to make crucial decisions at the federal, state and local levels that impact you and your family. It is your right and civic duty to participate in the 2020 census to make sure you’re represented and have access to important services for the next 10 years.
At its core, the census is about political representation and giving voice to every citizen, regardless of immigration or housing status, age, race, income, gender, or ability. But it’s also more than that.
For example, census data redraws school district and congressional boundaries. Increases in the population also determine how many seats our state gets in Congress. In the 2000 census, Utah lost the opportunity of receiving a 4th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by 856 people. We didn’t get an additional seat until after the 2010 count.
Census figures also help governments and businesses make decisions about where new hospitals and fire stations, and even where the next Target should be built.
The data brings more than $5.6 billion dollars to Utah to pay for programs like Medicaid, Free and Reduced School Lunch and Pell Grants for college students. And it helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws, including the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Right Act.
The United States has been collecting census data since 1790 after our Founding Fathers put the requirement into the Constitution. They believed that the representation that comes from the census is fundamental to democracy — something they didn’t have when the original 13 colonies were still under British rule.
In 1790, census takers crossed the country on horseback and foot to take the count, although it wasn’t an inclusive survey. The census only counted free white men of a specific age, along with free white women and slaves. Such imbalances would persist over the next century, with black men and women originally being counted as three-fifths a person and indigenous people not counted at all.
Census-taking has changed a lot over time, but some communities remain difficult to count. Historically, those of African descent, Latinos and indigenous people are undercounted in each census, leaving them excluded from full participation in the democratic process.
There has been some concern over a proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. That effort was blocked by a Supreme Court decision and the question will not appear on the coming survey.
The survey will ask you questions like: how many people are living in your household and whether your home is owned or rented. Your responses help identify important trends in our society and how to support our changing and growing communities.
Completing the census in 2020 is both a political act and am important statement. It’s like raising your hand to say, “I count, and my community deserves to be heard.”
It’s also safe and private. Reponses to the census are protected by Title 13 of the United States Code. Personal information can’t be shared with any court, government agency, law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Census Bureau employees are also sworn for life to protect your confidentiality. Violating the law is a serious federal crime punishable by a prison term of up to five years and fines.
Therefore in 2020, take a stand and make sure you’re counted. Here’s how to participate:
Complete the census either online, by mail or phone by April 1st. Non-English and Spanish speakers can complete the census online or by phone in 14 other languages. Video and printed guides are also available in 59 other languages. If you haven’t completed the census by April 1st, a Census Bureau employee will visit your home to collect your response in-person.
Protect yourself from scams and misinformation. The Census Bureau will never ask for social security numbers, bank or credit card account numbers or for money. It is also your duty to share accurate and reliable information on social media and with your networks. Check sources before you share.
Encourage family, friends and your community to participate.
Get counted, because some people are counting on you not to participate. All it takes is 10 minutes of your time to ensure you and your community have the resources and representation needed to thrive over the next 10 years.
Are men better than women? There are some who think so, but why? Just because they’re strong, are able to get good jobs, and are usually the main income earner in their families? I could go on and on. But that's not the point.
I believe that women are underestimated and taken for granted. Women can be just as strong as men; just look at strength athlete Kristin Rhodes, who won the Strongest Woman on Earth title in 2012. She is physically stronger than many men.
And believe it or not, women can get good jobs too. For the first time in history, voters chose between two women for Salt Lake City Mayor this year. There are also a lot of women and mothers out there working to support themselves and their families.
Women can also be powerful speakers – no matter how young or old. Take for example, Emma Gonzalez, a highschool senior and survivor of the February 2012 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. She is a brave young woman who has spoken up for more effective gun laws in March for Our Lives rallies nation-wide.
American actress and model Yara Shahidi, and Pakastani activist Malala Yousafzai both courageously advocate for better education and equality for women.
And the latest young woman to speak out on the global scene is 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who wants to see a better response from world leaders to the threats of climate change.
Do you see a pattern with all these young women? They all did the right thing; they stood up for what they believe in and what is important to them.
In my 11th grade history class we did a poster on women's rights and a quote was used that I really liked, “Women deserve to be heard, not just seen.” That really stood out to me.
In the world today we have seen examples of female activists being criticized by other people. Some of the comments are very sexist. Sometimes, when young females try to speak up for what they believe is right, they are not taken seriously or get shut down.
Recently, Thunberg spoke up at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit. She called out world leaders for not taking action to prevent climate change disasters, saying,”How dare you…” While she inspired many people worldwide, she was also criticized, told to “go back to school” or that she was “too young to be speaking.”
After Time Magazine named Thunberg “Person of the Year” in December, our own President Trump tweeted, ”Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!" Other critics made fun of her because she has autism (Asperger's), but let me tell you something: Autism doesn't define who you are. My own brother has it and some people say, ”What is this? Why can’t you speak? Are you even human?” I see this all around me happening to others who have mental disabilities; they are not taken seriously, or worse, they’re made fun of.
I have noticed that sexism is not only directed towards activists; it's in our own daily lives as well – like high school sports.
For example, when a member of my high school’s girls’ soccer team accidently slipped a swear word during a game, she got banned from playing in the next game. But no one really cares when a football player swears; they say, “Boys will be boys, not a big deal.”
This kind of treatment is not fair. I believe the whole American freedom of speech thing should apply equally to everyone – males and females!
In my own life, I have experienced sexist comments at school. I got push-back in my welding class, when some boys asked me questions like, “Why do you even weld? You’re not even really good at it. Isn't that more of a guy thing?” No, it's not. Yes I'm a female, but why does it matter? We can learn and weld just like men.
I have also received rude comments about my other hobby – skateboarding. I bring my skateboard to school and the boys have asked, “Do you even skate? You’re not even good because you don't know how to do any tricks.”
When I kept getting those comments, I wanted to give up on my own likes. But I learned that I don't need to care what other people say; if i like it, then i like it and should never give up.
In conclusion, I would like to say that no matter what others think, don't let them tear you down. Stand up for your rights and what you believe in. It only takes one person to help change the world. And that one person could be you.
Daise is a 16-year-old student at East High School and a participant of West View Teen Newsroom – a partnership between Glendale Library, West View Media and University Neighborhood Partners. Her last name has been omitted to protect her privacy.
Poplar Grove resident, Mike Harman, has an impressive track record helping homeless and unaccompanied youth access education as the Homeless Education Liaison for the Salt Lake City School District for the past 11 years.
He is also revered for the work he has done in other capacities to advocate for public education and further opportunity for disadvantaged students.
Harman has been with the Salt Lake City School District for 21 years. His first 10 years were as an elementary school counselor. His current stint as the Homeless Liaison was originally a one-year contract, but the previous holder of the position accepted employment elsewhere, so he stayed.
In addition to his position, he has served 12 years on the Salt Lake Education Association Executive Board, three years on the UEA Board of Directors, three years as vice president of the Salt Lake Education Association, and currently serves as the executive board liaison for the Salt Lake Teachers Association Political Action Committee.
In 2018, Harman received the Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association for his work to end homelessness through education.
Harman’s determination to help students reach their full potential and realize that homelessness is not an identification of an individual but simply a situation, is why he enjoys the work he does.
Harman says part of his job is to “remove barriers to attending school.” This includes navigating paperwork that requires a parent or legal guardian’s signature for unaccompanied minors, helping students access Advanced Placement courses and extracurricular activities, and providing transportation assistance.
Harman has also worked for many years leading Neighborhood House’s SOAR II Program (Summer Outdoor Activities and Recreation), which is a summer program established in 1996 for seventh and eighth graders. Students who have excelled academically and have made good choices are eligible, pending an interview and referral process.
This nine-week program’s aim is to foster a spirit of community service, while providing enriching and fun experiences for underprivileged youths.
Supported by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the SOAR II summer program includes activities such as hiking, bowling, paddle boarding and trips to southern Utah, and even Washington D.C.
In his position with the district, Harman works closely with a policy passed by Congress to reduce homelessness – the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan “to protect children’s rights.” There are four funding sources for the Mckinney-Vento Homeless Act: federal grants, Title I money, property tax, and donations.
Harman said that LGBTQ+ youths are a significant demographic of those unaccompanied and homeless student groups.
“They are not comfortable at home or are not allowed to stay because of conflicting values with their parents or guardians.” Harman says he has seen an increase of homeless and unaccompanied youth. “Times are getting harder, especially since so many people want to stay in Salt Lake City.”
Harman realizes that excessive bureaucratic red tape and long, complicated procedures make the situation more difficult for homeless youth.
“We have had a better time educating district employees to prioritize the students to get them into school … when in doubt about eligibility, just fill out the McKinney-Vento Form.”
Some of the students Mike has counseled have gone on to attend college, and secure jobs such as an attorney and dispatcher. “Not every student is going to go to college, and that’s okay. But I want people to have options in order to be successful,” he said.
Harman stresses the importance of being involved at the community level. His advice to homeless and unaccompanied youths remains reassuring: “There are resources. Find that person you can trust, whether it be a faculty member or a custodian.”
Mike Harman gave assistance to Atticus (the author of this story) when he and his sister were unaccompanied students at West High School after their parents returned to their country of origin.