The killing of George Floyd has unleashed a much-needed reckoning with our nation’s long history of systemic racism. Right here in Sonoma County we need to acknowledge the realities of white supremacy and the ways in which this has been manifested in police biases and in the disproportionate enforcement of “law and order.”
Because “Black Lives Matter,” it is most dismaying to learn that Dmitra Smith has announced her resignation as Chair of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights. The reasons she gives for resigning are truly shocking and unacceptable: (I) although there are 15 Commissioner positions, there have been only 6 serving, including the Chair; (ii) the Commission for Human Rights has been underfunded on a shoestring budget of $12,000; (iii) a public service announcement produced by the Commission in 2017 to inform the public of racism in our communities was not funded by the BOS, nor given the permission to fundraise for its distribution.
Susan Gorin has encouraged us to “reach out to, and read, what people of color are saying about this moment in time.” Indeed, our Board of Supervisors (BOS) needs to listen to Commissioner Dimitri Smith and the 5 other Commissioners and then announce a plan for restoring a fully functioning County Commission for Human Rights. Only then will it be clear that the BOS is truly serious about confronting our practices of white supremacy and racism along with specific steps to address and remedy their systemic-institutional roots.
Surely, the BOS must recognize that a fully staffed and funded County Commission on Human Rights has a key institutional role to play in meeting this challenge.
— John Donnelly, Sonoma