The 2017 Marin Equity Summit was held on Thursday, November 9th. This was the second annual equity summit focused specifically on disparities in Marin County. Over 200 people attended the summit to listen to powerful and inspiring speakers, and to hold discussions about aspects of inequity in Marin. The ultimate goal for the day was mapping out a Living Equity Agenda for the next year.
Participants broke into working groups to focus on various areas of inequity in Marin County (and elsewhere) issues and to develop a Living Equity Agenda for each topic:
Health care Employment
Racial equity Criminal justice
Food security Immigration
MCHWC’s own Melanie Hamburger led the discussion on health equity, which focused on community-oriented healthcare (including accessible and affordable coverage for all), trauma-informed care, school-based interventions, and maternal health through perinatal services.
The morning keynote speaker was Kaila Love, a hip hop artist, Spoken Word poet, activist, and 10,000 Degrees graduate and curriculum fellow. She talked about her own struggles with inequity in Marin: the culture shock of attending Redwood High School after being sent to live with a relative in Marin, and being homeless and living in her car for seven months while finishing high school. She recalled how an incredible teacher at Tamiscal High School, an alternative school in Larkspur where she transferred after a semester at Redwood (and where the intern writing this article attends), inspired her to apply for college. Rap (initially an acronym for Rhythm And Poetry) has provided a safe space for her. Kaila was accepted into UC Berkeley—the first in her family to go to college—and even performed an original rap at her graduation ceremony in 2014. Throughout her speech, Kaila performed several of her own rap songs (Listen to her debut EP, Beautiful and Disgusting, here).
“My goal is that every student’s setback becomes a jet pack propelling them forward toward educational equity into a world where every person has the opportunity to fulfill their true destiny.”
– Kaila Love
The afternoon keynote speaker was dr. john a. powell, the director of the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and a professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies. He spoke about “othering,” the process that we use to separate ourselves from those who aren’t like us, and how “othering” reinforces inequity. Different parts of our brains are activated by seeing someone of an “other” group; we literally don’t recognize them as the same human being as ourselves. dr. powell also discussed how empathy and love are some of the most powerful tools we can use to stop “othering” and reduce inequality.
“To achieve transformative change, we must create an environment in which everyone belongs – belonging is the greatest gift society can give us.”
– dr. john a. powell
Some of the other incredible speakers at this year’s Marin Equity Summit:
- Sylvie Knepler, the adopted Chinese daughter of Jewish parents, recalled the racism she encountered growing up in Marin and the frustration of constantly being asked “So where are you from?” and being told, “You all look alike.” She also highlighted the importance of humor when faced by these injustices.
- Jessica Jackson Sloan, the mayor of Mill Valley, stressed the power individuals have to create change and shared some of the equity policies she has championed, like passing an ordinance mandating that 1 in 4 new housing units in Mill Valley must be affordable.
- Dr. Felicia Chavez of Systems Thinking Marin talked about the importance of shifting our consciousness from ego-system (self) to eco-system (community) awareness.
- Leslie Garcia, a student at Sacramento State University talked about the challenges of growing up as the daughter of Mexican immigrant and being the first in her family to attend college. “As the oldest one in my family, I have a big responsibility,” Garcia said. “I usually help my parents when they’re trying to communicate something that is hard for them because of the language.” She also shared a story about being in an honors English class at San Rafael High School when the teacher seated the few Latino students in one corner in the back.
- Zach McRae of the San Francisco Foundation addressed some of the funding aspects of fighting inequity.
- Barbara Clifton Zarate of the Marin Community Foundation recapped the day and inspired participants to continue their fight for equity.
- Representatives from the County also presented about what Marin County government is doing to combat inequity, including increasing diversity, providing cultural competency trainings, revitalizing parks, and establishing many library programs.
Read this article in the Marin IJ about the Marin Equity Summit.
See more photos on the Marin Equity Summit Facebook page.
Learn more about each issue area with this summary of ways you can take action, resources to learn more and organizations doing the work for each aspect of equity.