Jodi Selene and Joyce Scott: Love Walk — ‘We can do better’
Mill Street in Grass Valley was blocked off and people were gathering, hugging each other and remarking about the snow, about the chill in the air.
There were songs, Margo Stebbing read a wonderful poem that spoke of inclusion and how to build a village, with compost and gardening metaphors that most of us in this rural community could relate to. We heard the history of the Love Walk and then went on to the Elks Lodge to an amazing array of music, dance and workshops — what a day!
Creating Communities Beyond Bias in partnership with Community Beyond Violence worked together, with many volunteers, to produce a meaningful and fun celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, with special emphasis on racial and cultural inclusivity.
We are two white women who ran into each other and chatted about how beautiful this crowd of people was all around us, and how we don’t see this many people of color in Grass Valley or Nevada City.
Joyce said, “Watching a diverse, lively and loving group of people dancing to the rhythms of Brazilian reggae, hip hop, African drumming. All sizes, skin color, ages, mingling in unity with love, felt wonderful … I didn’t know there were that many people of color in Grass Valley.”
And next, “Where are they? Why do I rarely see them?” She acknowledged she lives a pretty sheltered life, as do many others, who think of our town having “no color.” We do!
Oh, there’s the occasional reggae music concert, like last year when it seemed the musicians drew a crowd from far and wide. But here in town, just hanging out or shopping or grooving to music? We are a 94 percent Caucasian community at last census count. That really shows in the businesses and events of Nevada County.
How can we, as Caucasian people, be more welcoming of our neighbors of color? What can we do to be more inviting?
Oh, were you taught not to talk about this? I wasn’t.
Even though I grew up in racially diverse schools in New York, no one talked about how neighborhoods were still divided into white, Jewish, black and Latino … we didn’t discuss any specifics about race.
But how can we address a need for inclusion if we don’t talk about it? How can we invite our neighbors who are Asian, African and Latin-American to be part of this community, to feel safe and included?
“Each one, teach one,” Sista Kat sang today. It was a saying that the Black Panthers used, as they taught young black children in the free breakfast programs they set up. Each one, reach out and welcome someone a little different than we are, could be a call to action here in Nevada County.
And, above all, if we hear something or see someone threatening a person of color, speak out. When we are a safer place for diversity, we will experience more diversity.
What a beautiful day. And we can, indeed, do better.
Jodi Selene and Joyce Scott live in Grass Valley.
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