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Name not shown in Midtown/ Midtown West September 15, 2020, 11:03 PM

We all have a right to bask in the glow of who we are in this beautiful world that we all share. To be judged, stereotyped, underestimated, ridiculed, criminalized, marginalized or pushed out of society is an injustice and a contradiction to God’s work in creating mankind. Either we can choose to be good and loving or mean and cruel. Kindness starts with “Hello. How are you?” and “Good morning, neighbor!”… If we had more of that in Palo Alto, then African Americans, Native Americans, Latin Americans, Chicanos, Indian American, Chinese American and men and women of all colors, walks of life and identities could live freer, healthier and happier lives. We need a lot more love and compassion in this "community" and this is achieved through human “connection”… because “We’re In This Together” and "We Are Stronger Together."

The biggest culture shock for me since moving here from Southern California is that when I'm walking down the street, I typically have a natural urge to say "Hello" to someone who passes by. People here do not respond. You only get a blank stare or they pretend to be absorbed by what's on their Smartphone screen. To be completely ignored is insulting, depleting of the spirit, zaps all molecules of joy, makes me sad and further isolates everyone from the rest of the world. Even though I live in this beautiful place, the lack of smiles and warm greetings makes for a really dull place (even a head nod in acknowledgement would suffice). I wonder what other Black men, women, couples, families, children and singles think. You can't help but wonder.

Furthermore, when I see "Black Lives Matter"signs in people's yards and in their windows in Palo Alto, it seems like a total contradiction if people do a double take and act as though they are afraid when they see a man, woman or child of African American descent. A simple, "Hi. How is your day?" just might crack open a dialogue that bridges community and cultural differences. It woul most likely create a "real" sense of community in Silicon Valley. In the many years that I have lived here, I have felt a number of things: marginalized, unwelcomed, frustrated and empty because I have tried to say hello, but only get silent, blank stares. A little courage, humility and kindness would enrich and awaken Palo Alto and I think people of color would feel a real sense of "diversity" and "inclusion." Like our lives do...actually...matter.

Name not shown outside Palo Alto September 10, 2020, 3:38 PM

My child was a 4th grader at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto during 2019-20 school year. These are some of our known experiences of racism and sexism there.

*Sept 2019: Teacher threatened the parent in his classroom with aggressive energy and said, “I can be your enemy if you want.” Threatened because she asked where/how would POCs be included on his list of “American” artists. The teacher responded with anger, a symptom of White Fragility, which is discomfort and avoidance when faced with awareness of behaviors that elevate whiteness above others, also called white supremacy or racism.

*2019-20 before SIP: Teacher used fear-based discipline to force the 4th grade child to read out loud in class material that the 4th grade child felt was derogatory towards Indigenous people. He told them to read it or go to the principal’s office. Feeling unsafe in both places the 4th grade child betrayed themselves and read it. White kids learned to uphold whiteness at all costs because derogatory language toward Indigenous peoples was accepted and required. When the 4th grade child tried to do what they felt was right by not reading the words, the teacher refused to honor the 4th grade child. All kids learned to not speak up or stand out. All the kids in class experienced fear-based discipline.

*March 2020: The teacher called all of the white/light-skinned kids in class Ms./Mr. 2x each and intentionally repeated the sentence when he forgot to say Ms./Mr. but did not give the same honor to the Black and Brown kids. The reason given by the teacher was that it is for the “rhythm of the sentence.” This is called Aversive Racism: professing equality with your mouth while your behaviors hold whiteness as most honorable. The white/light kids had their value and the inferiority of non-white people reinforced. A specific way to be smart was also upheld as one of the children not honored also had a learning difference. (The LWS principal and School Board President/Middle School teacher were aware of the inequitable behavior but were unresponsive to the parent and possibly the teacher.)

*Fall 2019: Each of the three Ms./Mr. white/light children had situations with the 4th grade child that lead to conflict resolution sessions. Each of the Ms./Mr. kids were favored which included forcing the 4th grade child to apologize instead of letting that come from the heart. Another Ms./Mr. was given leeway for mean words because the parents were out of town and the child probably missed them. Another who began the teasing was allowed to call for a conflict resolution because they did not like how the teasing was turned on them. The white/light kids learned that they were valued more.

*July 2020: Silence from the LWS Principal and School Board President on these racist behaviors. Silent since first being alerted to the problem in March, though not explicitly called racism until July. The silence is called White Solidarity or not holding other white people accountable for racist behavior. As administrators of the school it is their job to hold teachers accountable and protect the children.

*August 2020: LWS Principal and School Board President/Middle School teacher refused to acknowledge the racism at LWS. The Board President/Middle School teacher stated that he was “not sorry” for remaining silent on racism at LWS. They refused to state any actions they would take to ensure an inclusive learning environment which is both treatment of students and content.

*2019-20 before SIP: At least one specific incident of the male teacher calling girls in class “bossy.” This is a term used to silence girls who are leaders, have vision, and are decisive. The boys learned how to exert power over girls. The girls learned to be silent.

*While there was unconscious racial bias in grades 2 and 3 at LWS, those teachers were more open to discussion and change. Still the school as a whole needs to value anti-racism, have bias awareness training, and have standards for inclusive teaching and learning.

*The teacher has apologized for some of the damaging treatment and behaviors. I appreciated this and it was the only acknowledgement from LWS regarding these harmful interactionsl. This is the beginning of that bias awareness for the teacher and without an all-school mandate of anti-racism it will be much harder to shift and there will be no shared framework for accountability.

Racism, which upholds that whiteness is superior, and sexism, which upholds that maleness is superior, are the default of US society, and maybe the world. You do not have to teach your children to value whiteness. You do not have to teach your children to value males over females. Unfortunately, society and schools, including LWS, will teach them. You have to be intentional to teach anti-racism and that women are valued. Families have influence and power when they work towards equity and inclusion collectively against systems of oppression, systems that are common but often go unrecognized in schools, even schools like Living Wisdom that profess joy, friendship, and using one's energy for good will.

Name not shown outside Palo Alto August 28, 2020, 10:27 AM

(i've submitted earlier and would like to add 2 more items)

We are a family of five, emigrant from not a European country, with light brown skin/hair. Studied in the Midwest then moved to Palo Alto in the 1990th . I mainly stayed home with my kids, who joined the Palo Alto school district as a preschooler till College age.
My exposure to the culture is mainly through my experience as a mother, who participated in many of my children's school activities, volunteered in classrooms and PTA. Through the school activities I got to learn and figure out the culture and the attitude of white American parents.
Somehow the image I had of American was of an open minded, liberal people - "the land of immigrants and opportunities". Then I was faced with an attitude of exclusiveness and prejudice. As a new comer, I thought their attitude is expressed toward me personally, just now I am learning it is the culture here. But it took long time to figure that out, first I struggled to find out if the attitude of those parents were directed toward us, our personality.
Even now when the children are grown up with their own families, I remember with pain the way other mothers treated my children and me. Examples that are still resonant with me:
1. I witness a phone call of a mother to her child, while in our home for a play date telling him : "I don't want you to play all the time just with this one."
2. A good school friend, who did come over when was invited, but neglected to invite to his birthday, saying he did not have enough space in his car .
3. Mothers calling on a day of play date to say their kids have running nose.
4. Had to notice , class's parents forming walking group, socializing groups , in which I had never been included.
5. Group of parents started an after school sport activity for classmates, but they neglected to include my kids.
6. Mothers will form volunteer group for school activities, but it would include just their own kind of friends.
7. New parents in school, would be invited to socialize, include kids play date, just if they were white, however, white immigrant would be included as well.
8. I witnessed how children are assigned to a classroom. I saw classes formed mainly/just by dark skin children by one principle, while prior principle will assign more equally diverse population in a class.
9. Interesting how on a field trip, carpool will be formed .
10. Indeed, while watching a game, a father approached me, pointed at a dark skin kid, and said we should be their friends (which I proudly am).
11. When a white American colleague moved to our street, I neglected to associate/invite them. assumng by past experience, that they will never invite us back or be our friend, and knowing that the wife immediately will make a large group of friend/mothers who looks like her. I was right about her association and friendship group, but we are included in their home while hosting big parties and it is a wonderful feeling to be included there.

While we Faced lots of exclusion, we still made some good friends.
I just hope that other new comers who are joining this community, will not assume that they are excluded because of their personality , but this is the culture of the society here. Assuming otherwise is damaging their self esteem, causing depression. If parents would know of the prejudice and exclusiveness of the American culture, it would avoid all the disappointments, heart broken and humiliation.
Today, my children are grown up, formed their own wonderful families,and successful in their careers.
Thanks for reading and providing this opportunity to express our-self

Name not shown outside Palo Alto August 26, 2020, 10:52 AM

I grew up attending church in Menlo Park. As a Latina woman, I was routinely the only (or 1 of 2) people of color in youth groups, choirs, and on the church campus generally. I remember being at the Stanford mall and a white woman approached me asking what the time was. However, instead of asking me in english, she assumed that because I am Latina that I must have spoken only spanish, so she tried asking me in her broken spanish "que hora es?". I answered back in english, insulted that she assumed that I didn't speak any english just because of the way I look. I was also followed around stores at the Stanford mall and racially profiled around church grounds, being looked at suspiciously whenever I walked around by myself. When I got into college, I felt I had to wear my school's sweatshirt all the time in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area so as to pre-emptively defy any negative stereotype people would have of me as I moved through a predominantly white space as a Latina woman. I really do feel like growing up in an area such as MP/PA where most everyone around me was white and far wealthier than my family will ever be led me to have a complex about being Latina in a predominantly white society. I worked tirelessly to assimilate into the dominant culture and downplay my status as a minority, going into debt to "look the part" and speaking and acting in a way that minimized the likelihood that people would scrutinize me for "not belonging." It is still something I struggle with and now that I live in East Palo Alto, despite its ongoing gentrification due to the tech boom, I still feel that EPA is looked down upon in relation to its wealthier (and more white) counterpart cities of PA and MP.

Name not shown in University South August 20, 2020, 10:56 AM

I moved to Palo Alto over 14 years ago. I love living here and the majority of people are absolutely wonderful. Like many of us, I am a person of mixed ethnicities. I am a first-generation American and worked hard to earn a master's degree. I consider myself a proud brown woman and mother of a wonderful child. Like everywhere, implicit bias exist in Palo Alto. I remember going to a local school parent party, parks, and to drop off my daughter at a friend's house for a play date where some people, including their children, thought I was the help. I always brushed it off to ignorance. Since the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it made me realize how my whole entire life I felt insignificant and was never enough due to people's implicit bias and the constant barrage of white-washing in beauty advertisements and magazines.

Name not shown outside Palo Alto August 15, 2020, 5:36 PM

We are a family of five, emigrant from not a European country, with light brown skin/hair. Studied in the Midwest then moved to Palo Alto in the 1990th . I mainly stayed home with my kids, who joined the Palo Alto school district as a preschooler till College age.
My exposure to the culture is mainly through my experience as a mother, who participated in many of my children's school activities, volunteered in classrooms and PTA. Through the school activities I got to learn and figure out the culture and the attitude of white American parents.
Somehow the image I had of American was of an open minded, liberal people - "the land of immigrants and opportunities". Then I was faced with an attitude of exclusiveness and prejudice. As a new comer, I thought their attitude is expressed toward me personally, just now I am learning it is the culture here. But it took long time to figure that out, first I struggled to find out if the attitude of those parents were directed toward us, our personality.
Even now when the children are grown up with their own families, I remember with pain the way other mothers treated my children and me. Examples that are still resonant with me:
1. I witness a phone call of a mother to her child, while in our home for a play date telling him : "I don't want you to play all the time just with this one."
2. A good school friend, who did come over when was invited, but neglected to invite to his birthday, saying he did not have enough space in his car .
3. Mothers calling on a day of play date to say their kids have running nose.
4. Had to notice , class's parents forming walking group, socializing groups , in which I had never been included.
5. Group of parents started an after school sport activity for classmates, but they neglected to include my kids.
6. Mothers will form volunteer group for school activities, but it would include just their own kind of friends.
7. New parents in school, would be invited to socialize, include kids play date, just if they were white, however, white immigrant would be included as well.
8. Indeed, while watching a game, a father approached me, pointed at a dark skin kid, and said we should be their friends (which I proudly am).
9. When a white American colleague moved to our street, I neglected to associate/invite them. assumng by past experience, that they will never invite us back or be our friend, and knowing that the wife immediately will make a large group of friend/mothers who looks like her. I was right about her association and friendship group, but we are included in their home while hosting big parties and it is a wonderful feeling to be included there.

While we Faced lots of exclusion, we still made some good friends.
I just hope that other new comers who are joining this community, will not assume that they are excluded because of their personality , but this is the culture of the society here. Assuming otherwise is damaging their self esteem, causing depression. If parents would know of the prejudice and exclusiveness of the American culture, it would avoid all the disappointments, heart broken and humiliation.
Today, my children are grown up, formed their own wonderful families,and successful in their careers.
Thanks for reading and providing this opportunity to express our-self

Bruce Reyes-Chow in Palo Verde August 12, 2020, 10:45 AM

As a new person to Palo Alto and one who has been involved in conversations about race and anti-racism for decades, I applaud my new home's efforts with #PaloAltoReads and #PaloAltoSpeaks. My question is, why does it begin with POC having to do the initial heavy lifting and sharing of stories? We do need to hear stories, but I think the effort needs to be careful that anti-racism conversations are not contingent upon POC participation as a way for white folks/systems to not look inward.

Name not shown in Charleston Terrace May 13, 2020, 11:40 PM

How would you prioritize the City’s six service areas? The more dots you assign to a service area, the higher a priority it is for you. Public Safety (1), Infrastructure and Environment (1), Planning and Transportation (2), Economic Sustainability and Business Support (2), Neighborhood, Community and Library Services (2), Administration and Government (2)
In the space below, please provide any additional comments or input on the City’s budget process and priorities the City Council should consider for FY 2020-2021. I support teen services, and hope that they remain. With everything that's been happening, I want my peers to keep being creative and outgoing and building their skills.

Aleksandar Milivojevic in Charleston Terrace May 13, 2020, 10:47 PM

How would you prioritize the City’s six service areas? The more dots you assign to a service area, the higher a priority it is for you. Public Safety (3), Infrastructure and Environment (2), Planning and Transportation (1), Neighborhood, Community and Library Services (4)
In the space below, please provide any additional comments or input on the City’s budget process and priorities the City Council should consider for FY 2020-2021. The city should keep supporting teen services. The value of services they provide greatly outweighs their costs. They are often tiny line items in the budget. Cutting them off would provide little to no savings, while the residents would lose valuable service.

Name not shown in Charleston Terrace May 13, 2020, 10:36 PM

How would you prioritize the City’s six service areas? The more dots you assign to a service area, the higher a priority it is for you. Public Safety (5), Infrastructure and Environment (2), Planning and Transportation (1), Neighborhood, Community and Library Services (2)
In the space below, please provide any additional comments or input on the City’s budget process and priorities the City Council should consider for FY 2020-2021. For some reason I was listed in Charleston Terrace. I'm in Adobe Meadow.