SBIFF is Reeling

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Our Town

Black History Month: Talking About the Issues with Healing Justice Santa Barbara

A Modern Work of Art in Ennisbrook 1850 Jelinda Drive | Offered at $24,850,000

Co-founders of Healing Justice Santa Barbara Krystle Farmer Sieghart, Leticia Forney Resch, and Simone Akila at the Melanin Gallery

by Joanne A. Calitri


lack History is World History” We read and hear this, but are we listening? Are we showing up to support the Black/ African community we share this town with, to learn and heal, to ensure they feel safe and free to be who they are to live and thrive here? To begin our important work in these areas, I interviewed the founders of Healing Justice Santa Barbara (HJSB) Krystle Farmer Sieghart, Simone Akila, and Leticia Forney Resch, along with Santa Barbara Black Historian and Poet Laureate Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle at the Melanin Gallery downtown and via Zoom: Q. What are the Black/African issues everyone in Santa Barbara needs to look at right now? A. It is important for people to take a look at their everyday lives and see how they are showing up for Black lives in this community, because in a lot of ways we are not supported. For example, what does the representation look like at the school your children go to, are there Black teachers, Black students, resources for Black students, are the schools celebrating Black History Month? Black representation is decreasing in Santa Barbara, and no one is talking about it. There are less and less Black families, Black students, and Black people working in Santa Barbara, and that is intentional. Why decreasing? Because they don’t feel safe here; they are pushed out and feel problematized. We grapple 24 February – 3 March 2022

with every day: Am I allowed to be my authentic self, or do I have to suppress who I am to survive in Santa Barbara? We want to be who we are, to feel safe in my community, bring my culture with me, and carry my identity. We should be able to do that. Black people deserve to live full, beautiful, lasting lives in Santa Barbara. It is important to preserve Black History and Black legacy so people can know we have been here. A lot of organizations and businesses that people are benefiting from – Black people started them – and no one wants to talk about it, such as, The Food Bank; the Franklin Center, where they changed the name and stole it from Black folks; the trash system in Santa Barbara was started by a Black man and Marborg bought it from him. A lot of Black elders here have been doing a lot of community work for free for centuries, Black churches raise their own money to build schools for their education programs and it is not city funded. People don’t talk about our collective struggle to do things on our own. These systems do not support Black people the way they are supposed to, by the way they were designed. We always get the shortest end of the stick. That is why we have to say, “Black lives matter,” and have our own organizations. We deserve spaces and funding too. We are here because we uplift, affirm, and value Black lives. The Melanin Gallery is closing February this year? It would be a tragedy to see the Melanin Gallery no longer operating in

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