New Bolinas group will work to combat racism

01/06/2021

Fighting racism in West Marin is the mission of a new group of mostly Bolinas residents. The group convened for the first time last month, responding to the defacement of Black Lives Matter signs and a recent appearance of swastikas inside the Bolinas Post Office, which employees immediately took down. “A person of color found out about the swastikas and called me and was really upset, feeling like things that have been happening all year here were escalating and that members of the community weren’t feeling safe and needed support. The request is for white residents in the community to think about this now,” said Evie Wilhelm, who convened the meeting. On Monday, during the group’s second call, one person of color shared an experience of being verbally abused in the Palace Market the day before, while she wore a Black Lives Matter mask. (The Palace banned the aggressors from the store.) The group is the latest of several that have formed on the coast to respond to racist and antisemitic events. Last summer, dozens of groups signed a statement that committed to “carry out our own internal work within our respective organizations to address bias and racism, while advancing equity, diversity and inclusion.” Sarah Hobson, the executive director of the West Marin Fund who is helping to spearhead the initiative, said she thought acts of racism in West Marin have been ignored by much of the white population, but that awareness and action are now shifting to address this. “We are seeing more instances of people of color speaking out about the violent and intimidating language and behavior they are subjected to by some white members of the community, and who often for the first time are being heard and acknowledged by those who increasingly recognize and abhor the reality of racism,” Ms. Hobson said. This week, the Bolinas group divided into several working groups: one that will help businesses respond to racist events, one that will organize an immediate response for anyone experiencing racism in real time, one that will reach out to the Latino community to make the group more accessible, one exploring a day of action against racism in West Marin, one that will convene a reading group on white supremacy, and one that will write a column in the Hearsay. Contact evanawilhelm@gmail.com to join the calls.