I commend the courage and leadership shown by the four Arcata City Councilmembers who voted to remove the McKinley statue from the Plaza (Opposition to City Council’s McKinley removal decision begins to emerge, Feb. 24). Though it was (and will continue to be) difficult, they have struck at least one small blow to the dominant culture of patriarchy and white supremacy that we are all living under.
I know Sofia Pereira to be one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know, and I take offense to the tone of Michael Winkler’s letter on her behalf. Unfortunately it’s far from rare for women in positions of leadership to face this kind of condescending treatment from their male co-workers.
I assume based on what I know of Mayor Pereira that she understands the deep wounds that colonialism and racism have inflicted on our community, and that she recognizes the importance of allowing those hurts to be aired and hopefully rectified. This process is ugly and uncomfortable – but not nearly as ugly and uncomfortable as the long list of atrocities that have been perpetrated against indigenous people on these lands over the past two hundred years.
Every bit of the wealth and prosperity that we currently enjoy on this country is based on the oppression and extinction of native people and people of color. None of the land on which our homes and businesses sit would be “ours” had it not been viciously taken through the genocide of indigenous people. The wealth that has passed to us (primarily white people) generation to generation was only made possible through the murder of native people and the exploitation of slave labor. Like it or not, that is the reality of our current economic system.
In this context, Dan Hauser’s assertion that “it would be totally unfair and unreasonable to promote this effort with City funds,” would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. Has he no understanding that every dollar collected by the city for hundreds of years is tainted with the suffering of indigenous families? Apparently not.
We, as white people, have a lot of work to do. At a bare minimum, we need to learn to be OK allowing the victims of this systemic violence and exploitation to be mad. What other reaction could they possibly have to the knowledge that their parents and grandparents suffered so mercilessly in this, their home country? What other reaction should we expect in the face of the statistics showing that nearly 30 percent of Native Americans live below the poverty line, and that Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group? Hopefully once we master the ability to allow space for this anger, we can move into productive conversations about how to create a future that is very, very different from our past. But we won’t get there if we continue to demonize oppressed people any time they display justifiable anger.
Removing the statue isn’t about “erasing our history”; it’s about listening to the voices of those whose lives have been the most harshly impacted by that history, and following their lead about what can be done to begin to heal these deep wounds so we can move forward
If anyone would like to watch the Feb. 21 City Council meeting in question, you can do so through Access Humboldt’s website, accesshumboldt.net; the incident around which your recent article centered begins around minute 58.
Cooperation Humboldt Board Member
By Tamara McFarland
I would like to thank the community members who gathered Saturday at the Bayshore Mall to support reproductive freedom and hand out free contraceptives. This took place during St. Joseph Hospital’s annual health fair, from which Planned Parenthood has been barred from attending for the past eight years.
We must continue to fight for universal health care including full reproductive care, and oppose further consolidation of corporate power in our local healthcare system. Humboldt County is suffering under a virtual monopoly on health care services, which only benefits insurance companies and corporate shareholders.
St. Joseph Health Medical Group (SJHMG) now owns and imposes its religious beliefs on almost every clinic and doctor’s office in the region aside from those run by Open Door and Planned Parenthood. SJHMG recently bought Eureka Family Practice and Eureka OB/GYN, and immediately removed almost all contraceptive services from their menu. SJHMG also acquired Eureka Urology Associates last year, at which time that provider stopped providing vasectomies. Let that sink in for a minute — one of the area’s main OB/GYN practices banned from providing any contraceptive services aside from the pill, and Humboldt County’s only urology practice banned from providing vasectomies.
Our options for comprehensive reproductive care are disappearing at an alarming rate. The primary focus of our health care system has morphed from patient care to corporate consolidation and privatization. This shift, coupled with the ever-expanding domination of a Catholic-affiliated conglomeration of clinics and doctor’s offices is creating a real crisis. If SJHMG-owned practices represented only a small segment of a much larger menu of medical providers in our area, there would be less cause for concern; however, in this rural community, they are becoming the only game in town, giving them the power to dictate the choices of a huge swath of our population based on their religious beliefs. This is a truly frightening and deeply un-American phenomenon.
Another factor compounding this dilemma is the fact that SJHMG wields a great deal of financial control over our local nonprofits (which, ironically, are being relied on more and more heavily as our societal safety nets are weakened). SJHMG contributes significant sums to many local charities — a commendable act on one hand — but on the other hand, also a disconcertingly effective muzzle on the voices of the local residents perhaps most likely to raise the alarm about problems like these. Many smart and well regarded individuals employed by important local nonprofits feel unable to speak freely about this issue without risking their own personal livelihoods and/or the financial solvency of the nonprofits where they work.
Our current system is rotten to its core and on the brink of collapse. We are dealing with the fallout now of granting corporations the same rights as people and prioritizing money over lives and health. The endless drive to maximize profits and cut costs — motivations that lie at the very heart of capitalism itself — have resulted in a badly broken system that leaves a huge portion of our population with their basic human needs unmet.
Human beings created this system, and it’s time to dismantle it and build something new. We can and must do better — for ourselves, our neighbors, and our children. We need a system that is compassionate and cooperative, and puts people and planet over profit and religious ideology.
Tamara McFarland is a resident of Eureka and co-founder of Cooperation Humboldt (cooperationhumboldt.org).