As founding director of Sonoma County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach as well as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, Jerry Threet has distinguished himself by demonstrating a deep commitment to the upholding of human rights and fighting racism. Therefore, the Commission on Human Rights takes issue with Sheriff Mark Essick’s use of the official Sheriff’s Office Facebook page for attacking Jerry Threet as a racist for Essick’s own personal political reasons.
Similarly, the November 13th editorial of the Press Democrat soundly condemned Mr. Threet for using what they described as “racially charged language.”
In response to both of these accusations, the Santa Rosa-Sonoma County chapter of the national NAACP issued a statement on November 14,th “The Appropriation of Racism,” which declared that “Instead of addressing racism and the departure of Black county leaders, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is more concerned with ostracizing a former community leader. Mr. Threet, the former Director of IOLERO, [who] used a phrase “All skin folk ain’t kinfolk,” popularized by Zora Neal Hurston (1942 autobiography “Dust Tracks on a Road.”), [which] is not a racial slur but rather a cultural colloquialism. As a white man, his use of this phrase was a matter of cultural appropriation, but by no means a racist statement. Mr. Threet has demonstrated a commitment to anti-racism and living as an ally. He modeled this professionally and personally, sought out opportunities to deeply engage, uplift, and listen to some of the most marginalized people in the county. And for this work, he is now a target of defamation.”
To date, the Press Democrat has refused requests to publish this response to its editorial as well as Letters to the Editor from others who express the same sentiments.
Therefore, the Commission on Human Rights hereby affirms its solidarity with the NAACP and calls for widespread recognition of its public statement of November 14, 2021.
— Kathleen Finigan, Commissioner 1st District, Sonoma County Human Rights Commission