VCCF Stands with our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Communities
Dear Ventura County Community Foundation Family,
We live in a world where what we want – that all people are equal, are treated equally, and have equal opportunity – is not the reality. We wish it were true, we want it to be true, but it is not… not yet.
The reality is that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Ventura County and around the nation fear law enforcement. They fear walking in their neighborhoods. They are treated less than equal because of their skin color. We know that these same communities have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis, are not afforded equal opportunities, and are forced to shoulder the weight of systemic racism every single day. We also know that life expectancy is tied to ZIP code – an unfortunate truth that we have the power to change.
While VCCF and others have been working to fix these unfair and unjust realities of systemic racism, we acknowledge that there is a huge amount of work to be done.
The Ventura County Community Foundation is committed to improving the lives of all members of our community. We stand for every single resident of Ventura County – and we acknowledge that some members of our community are still discriminated against due to their race, sexual orientation, age, gender, religion, or legal status. As President Barack Obama said, “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”
Today, our black and brown neighbors are in pain. They have been in pain for far too long. Now is the time to speak up against all acts of racism. To be silent and passive will not create the kind of change that we need. We must stand together to make sure that the murders of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of Ahmaud Arbery are not just three more lives taken due to systemic racism, but rather that they are the fuel for the fire inside each of us to fix our broken systems, to elevate and honor our communities of color, and to stamp out racism and a culture of white supremacy in all of its forms.
To that end, we must listen attentively and we must give generously– give of our time, our talents, and our resources – to elevate the experiences, needs, and voices of BIPOC communities in Ventura County and beyond. We must do the work to educate ourselves and use our collective privilege as a platform for change. Only when we become more attentive, compassionate and activated allies can we begin to build a more inclusive and resilient community for all.
As we’ve connected with so many of you these past few days and have listened to your pain and grief, you’ve asked what your community foundation is doing to help address these tragic realities. Together we have been focused on helping to lift up these important issues by taking a leadership position on the U.S. Census to promote education and outreach to some of our most disenfranchised communities so that our county receives the representation and critical resources it needs, including the protection of Civil Rights; by hosting the 805 UndocuFund, a joint effort of immigrant-serving organizations in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties to provide disaster and financial relief to local undocumented and mixed-status families left out of many government assistance programs; by working with our nonprofit community partners during the COVID-19 crisis, such as FOOD Share, to feed the hungry and promote continued access to basic human needs and critical services; and by extending the outreach of our scholarship program so that more of our young people and returning students can afford higher education. There is more work we need to do and we welcome your ideas and input.
Please know that in all of our efforts, we have been able to count on you – the generous people of our community – and we thank you.
Ventura County has faced its fair share of threats. Examples include the Thomas, Hill and Woolsey wildfires that ravaged through multiple cities, and the Borderline mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, and now the devastating consequences of COVID-19 and financial fallout. Through every adversity we have faced, you continue to show up for one another, and we are grateful to you — our community — for the strength, guidance, and comfort you continue to bring. Now, we are asking you to join us again.
If you are committed to change, VCCF is here to support you. We will help you make a difference. And, to our nonprofit colleagues, we want to hear from you – how you are making a difference in addressing systemic racism, how you are supporting disenfranchised communities and what we can do to best support you.
The Ventura County Community Foundation stands with you and together we will make Ventura County a place where our communities of color feel safe, feel seen, and feel heard.
Below we have compiled a list of BIPOC organizations and resources to better understand racism and become better allies. Please check back as this list continues to grow.
In love and solidarity,
Scott Hansen, Board Chair, and Vanessa Bechtel, President and CEO
Black and Brown Leadership in Ventura County [and throughout the Central Coast]:
- NAACP: Ventura County Chapter
- Black Lives Matter – Ventura County group
- Black American Political Association of California – Ventura Chapter
- Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Ventura County
- Community Advocacy Coalition [Ventura and Oxnard]
- Indivisible Ventura
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Ventura County
- Coffee with a Black Guy
- Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
- Diversity Collective
Educational Resources and FAQs for Better Allyship