|Declaration of Equality
Adopted, Alameda, CA, October 1996
Alameda Diversity Alliance
The Alameda Diversity Alliance is a coalition of Alameda's social justice organizations working to make the City of Alameda a place of inclusiveness and fairness, with a reputation for rational and humane treatment of people and its natural resources.
A partial list of organizations participating in the Alameda Diversity Alliance:
The Alameda Diversity Alliance produced the following declaration of equality prior to the November 1996 Local Elections. The declaration was the focus of two pre-election forums with city council candidates and school board candidates. The Alliance is continuing to promote the goals of the declaration of equality and hopes the City Council and School Board will too.
- West End Concerned Citizens (Base Reuse)
- Coalition of Alamedans for Racial Equality (CARE)
- East Bay American Refugee Committee (CRECE)
- Organization of Alameda Asians (OAA)
- Out on the Island (OOTI)
- Social Justice Committee, Buena Vista UMC
DECLARATION OF EQUALITY
Many individuals and organizations in Alameda have recognized their common belief on issues that will be addressed in this election year. We began discussion on issues of Affirmative Action, Youth Concerns, Gay/Lesbian Issues, City Council and City School Board Relationship, NAS Base Conversion, and Housing/Homeless. Throughout all these themes, issues of racism and sexism were addressed. We have synthesized this declaration to include our position on inclusiveness, fairness, and rational and humane treatment of people and natural resources in our City.
The City of Alameda has only recently begun to acknowledge the presence of its rich cultural diversity within the city's population. While some efforts have been made in affirmative action hiring for both city employees and school district employees, efforts must be stepped up to meet the realities of 1996, in terms of ethnic and gender diversity.
This year's state election vote on Propostion 209 creates an especially hostile environment for the implementation of affirmative action policies. Proposition 209, named the California Civil Rights Initiative attempts to invoke the values of the Civil Rights Movement in proposing to abolish affirmative action policies in the state of California. Their claim is that such policies are not equal and fair for all citizens.
Affirmative Action policies implemented through government agencies have always been about making corrective adjustments in inherently unfair systems of educational admissions, and employment and hiring practices. Until such corrective action adjustments have remedied the problems of institutional racism and sexism, the policies of affirmative action will continue to be needed.
The City of Alameda and the Alameda Unified School District must continue their work towards making corrective action adjustments in hiring patterns by continuing to "affirm" the policies of affirmative action. We applaud the Alameda Unified School District's Board of Trustees official position taken against Proposition 209. We support candidates who stand for affirmative action policies and who articulate the continued need for the City of Alameda and the society at large to do so.
Youth have voiced the lack of relevant activities and appropriate meeting places in the City of Alameda. Racial and cultural factors often influence the perception of these needs and interests. The City of Alameda must be more aggressive in advocating for and supporting relevant youth activities, as wells as needed youth facilities and resources for youth in need.
Racial ethnic youth are often stereotyped by educators and the public at large, to the detreminent of their well being. Gay and lesbian youth also often suffer in silence and anonymity because of anti-gay sentiment and general lack of understanding of their experiences. The community climate in which youth live and grow can either be helpful or harmful to youth. It is important for public educators, elected representatives, and officials to be proactive in demonstrating leadership which helps foster a community of understanding, fariness, equality and non-discrimination. We are in support of elected officials who understand with seriousness, the pervasive and historical roots of racism and homophobia in the City of Alameda. We support elected officials who will demonstrate their leadership by speaking up against racism and homophobia in the City of Alameda. We support elected officials who will demonstrate their leadership by speaking up against racism and homophobia whenever and wherever it may appear within the sphere of community life.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people live in an environment in which their civil rights are not protected. They are not afforded the rights and benfits that average citizens take for granted. This environment is often hostile, sometimes violent, and erases them from the landscape whenever possible. Gay and lesbian youth are harassed on school campuses, are denied role models, and are at higher than average risk of suicide. The role of government is to represent serve and acknowledge all residents equally, to provide an equal education to all students, and to ensure their safety.
Gay people pay their taxes and social security like everyone else. They should therefore receive the same benefits and protections as non-gay residents in housing, employment, marriage, education, and health care. Gay people should have the right to legally marry, but until that time comes they should be entitled to register their partnerships with the City of Alameda and the Alameda Unified School District, and receive domestic partner health/life insurance and retirement benefits.
The City of Alameda should welcome gay persons as residents, employees, and business owners, and included us in the social and governmental life of the City. Gay faculty, staff, and families shoud be welcomed into, and fully included in the Alameda Unified School District. Gay students and students from gay households should be able to safely attend public shool in Alameda without the fear of harassment or intimidation, and they should be provided with resources and role models as appropriate and needed.
We support candidates who proactively ensure the safety , acknowledgement and inclusions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people within our City.
City Council and City Schools Relationship
The Alameda City Council and Alameda Unified School Board have existed fairly independently of each other. Considering that both entities should work for the good of children and the community, greater efforts to establish a more collabrative relationship would only be beneficial for the city. Creation of on-going dialogue would enhance this relationship. We encourage meeting together to create goals to work collectively towards supporting each other in specific activities for youth. Collective education, programs and action on such issues as gang violence, youth needs and activities, would send the message to the citizens of our town that we all care about children in our community.
NAS Base Conversion
NAS location is directly adjacent to the West End Community, which has a higher concentration of low-income people and people of color. We recognize that lower income and communties of color disproportionately live near toxic waste disposal and dumping ground sites. From an environmental justice perspective, we are concerned that economic impacts and public health impacts of the closure of the base be understood, especially by local residents in the community. Minority and low-income communities often lack the power, voice and resources to participate in public processes such as base conversion. It is imperative that elected officials who make policy effectively reach out and receive input from the people who will be most directly affected by their decisions.
Among the base issues, it is vitally important that Alameda NAS be cleaned to a level that is safe enough for children and families to live on. Residential standards are more stringent than those for industrial use. Decisions for land reuse and coversion to peacetime economies should also consider the interests of local neighborhoods which currently surround the base properties.
Additionally, increased traffic, and the increased usage of city services will severely impact the entire Alameda island with redevelopment. We need a land use plan that will minimize fiscal impacts, island access/traffic gridlock and strain on city services by reusing existing developed areas. We support candidates who will create a viable public transportation system, maximize open space with a wildlife refuge, while protecting endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and environmental community agree that a minimum of 525 acres of the refuge would adequately protect the endangered least tern, which is an endangered species.
The City of Alameda must give more support to the creation of permanent affordable housing and the eradication of homelessness. Strong political leadership can help the citizens of Alameda understand that in these days of corporate and government downsizing many people are just a few paychecks from being homeless and that permanent affordable housing can benefit those who live on fixed or limited incomes. This includes persons who work at minimum wage, and those who cannot afford to buy homes.
Comprehensive and integrated social service programs are needed for helping to bring those who have been homeless through years of despair, bitterness, fear, nonsocialization, and sometimes drug and alcohol dependency, back to normal life. Transitional housing is needed to help bridge the gap between shelters and permanent housing.
The City of Alameda must provide both financial and political support to truly achieve the goals established by the Measure A lawsuit for replacement of affordable housing lost by the conversion of the Buena Vista Apartments into the Bridgeport Apartments. The City must cultivate working relationships with strong and committed nonprofit housing developers who are used to working through obstalces to make projects happen. The East Bay Habitat for Humanity houses should continue to be an opportunity for affordable first-time home ownership and the City should support more of such endeavors. Additionally, the City must make more affordable rental apartments available. The large supply of housing at the Alameda Naval Air Station yet unspoken for provides a large opportunity for permanent affordable housing. We support officials who will actively work towards these ends.