Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff’s the kind of pandering politician no one needs. She battles racism where none exists.
Here’s what makes Schaff’s behavior so dangerous: Racism does exist. Sometimes it’s in plain sight — ala George Floyd. Most of the time it is embedded in our life together in sneaky ways. If we’re to make this a better place, we must tackle it when and where we find it. Spending time fighting concocted racism humanity no good.
For example, five ropes were found hanging from trees in an Oakland park. The ends were looped and two of them had hand grips. Some wondered if maybe … possibly … they were some sort of rudimentary noose. (A reasonable line of inquiry in these troubled times.)
Then enters Mayor Schaff. She ballyhoo’s the discovery as a bonofide hate-crime, inserting herself as the great race warrior.
Only it wasn’t, and she isn’t.
Victor Sengbe, who is black, told KGO-TV that the ropes were a rigging that he and his friends used as part of a larger swing system. He shared a video with the TV station showing how they used it.
Schaaf doubled down. The swings put up by a black man for exercise must be further investigated as a hate crime, she said, because (and I’m not making this up) why the ropes were originally put up didn’t matter.
“Intentions don’t matter when it comes to terrorizing the public,” Schaaf said. “It is incumbent on all of us to know the actual history of racial violence, of terrorism, that a noose represents and that we as a city must remove these terrorizing symbols from the public view.”
These were not nooses. We know that now. Refusing to move on makes this pure grandstanding and elevates the mayor to a high level of political nincompoopery.
These were two of the “nooses” found in an Oakland park.
MORE OAKLAND WEIRDNESS
So, this happened. A college math teacher in Oakland asked a student to “anglicize” her name because he found her name disturbing to say out loud in class.
She reported him to the college and the college suspended the professor saying “We do not tolerate racism, discrimination or oppression of any kind.”
Her name: Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen.
Now you know how weird it is out there … and it’s getting weirder all the time.
PACIFICA’S 2020 POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
I tell anyone who cares to listen that I don’t understand why people run for public office. The amount of guff you have to take must be extraordinary. But, I’m glad people do it. Two City Council seats are up for re-election this fall. They are now occupied by Deirdre Martin and Sue Vaterlaus.
Martin, I am told, has disbanded her campaign committee. She’s been on the losing end of a lot of 4-1 votes in the last 12 months and her frustration has been on full display. (We reached out to her and didn’t get the courtesy of a response, which is par for the course, I am sorry to say, with Deirdre of late.)
Vaterlaus did respond and she told us she hasn’t made the call yet. Filing deadline is in a couple of weeks.
Isn’t it time to get back to in-person public meetings? This Zoom stuff is better than nothing, I suppose. But it still sucks hind teat in the greatest democracy the world has ever known. We have critical issues to discuss. Argue out, if you will. Holding discussions online just isn’t good enough.
ONE MORE THING
— We may as well go ahead and start pronouncing the “l” in salmon. Nothing matters anymore.
— Adulting: (v.) Putting back a pack of chicken for $11.58 because you see one for $11.17.
— Please be chicken, please be chicken.
Until next week stay well, protect yourself from the COVID and avoid soreheads. It doesn’t cost a dime to be kind. Also, wear a mask when out in the public, at least for now. It only makes sense.
(Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, publisher of intensely local community newspapers, including the Novato Advance, the San Rafael News Pointer, the Mill Valley Herald, the Sausalito Marin Scope, the Twin Cities Times, the Ross Valley Reporter and the Pacifica Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)