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Indybay Feature
Sonoma County’s Institutional Responses to the Black Lives Matter Movement
by Lilyana Pantoja
Sunday Apr 18th, 2021 6:25 PM
This piece is about Sonoma County's educational institution's reponse to the Black Lives Matter movement. It explains the movement and how it has affected a couple of educational institutions in the county. It brings to light what their steps are going forward after the movement's influence.
Sonoma County’s Institutional Responses to the Black Lives Matter Movement
By: Lilyana Pantoja

Sonoma County can be considered one of the many counties in California that stand by the Black Lives Matter movement and try to support their Black communities. Sonoma County can be considered a predominantly white county, with people of color accounting for about forty percent of the population.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been seen as a very influential and monumental movement in our modern society. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. It has gained even more momentum this past May after the horrific and unnecessary death of George Floyd by the former police officer Derek Chauvin. The movement’s main goal is to eradicate white supremacy and to build local power to intervene in violence inflicted upon Black communities.

In Sonoma County, many of their local institutions have made statements and even made some change in their structure to better support their Black peers. In my statement, I will be focusing more on the educational institutions that have made responses and changes due to this social movement.

Education is one of the most important aspects of any society as it is what helps us to develop and teach children about the world around us. Sonoma County’s Office of Education is the main institution that has the most impact on the county’s children as they are in charge of the school districts. Because of this, I believe that they should be at the top of the list of institutions to acknowledge any inequalities within and to fix them accordingly.

After an interview with one of their communicating employees, I found that the county’s office of education did in fact make a response to the Black Lives Matter movement and even instituted some change. They have held forums to hear what students of color wanted from the county in order to feel heard or welcomed in their respective districts. According to our interviewee, there was a large difference between white teachers and students of color which was seen as an obvious problem in authority. The office of education recognized this issue and decided to work on hiring more teachers of color to better understand and relate to the majority of Black, Latinx, and other students of color.

Similarly, Sonoma State University also has made a statement and change in response to the Black Lives Matter movement as they are the only university in the county. Sonoma State has made multiple statements led by the President and Division of Student Affairs in condemning the acts of racial hatred and violence targeted at the Black community. They state that they stand in solidarity with their Black community members and believe that Black Lives Matter. They pledged to have engaging conversations about the movement and injustice as well as to provide better emotional assistance to students of color.

Overall, I believe that Sonoma County has strived to make the county a more welcoming place for people of color in a predominantly white area. More specifically, their educational institutions have paved the way for other institutions to make change in their structure in accordance to the Black Lives Matter movement. They have listened to students of color and have worked on making change within to better assist their needs. The Black Lives Matter movement has helped these institutions to focus more on bettering the lives of these young students rather than simply brushing it off. Although there is always more change that can be done, I believe that this is great step forward in making a difference in society for the youth of Sonoma County.
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