Lisa Diaz Nash

Lisa Diaz Nash

As San Mateo County returns to the state’s COVID-19 watchlist, people are thinking about the impacts on their lives and businesses. Our number one priority must be to protect our community’s health. This also is the quickest way to ensure we reopen our economy and stay reopened.

In the midst of these unprecedented times, there also is an openness to questioning basic assumptions about how we live our lives. Take the perennially “unsolvable” problem of traffic gridlock that used to be the first complaint when you asked San Mateans what they didn’t like about the city. Then COVID-19 came and, all of a sudden, you didn’t have to double the time it took you to get crosstown in the afternoon, or you found yourself saying for the 10th time, “I don’t remember the sky being so blue for years!” Those people fortunate enough to have the option to work from home cleared the roads — and the skies — for all of us. Bicycles and walking emerged as more common modes of transportation once the roads were safer. Cycling advocates and environmentalists have argued for years this is necessary if we are to slow down climate change, but it took the pandemic to speed up actual adoption.

Now that people have experienced these changes, and like them, there is no going back. Companies are shifting to “work from home” models and people from all over San Mateo are advocating for expanded bike paths and pedestrian safety.

Our current questioning of basic assumptions, however, goes deeper than traffic and bike paths. Born out of the murder of George Floyd and other innocent people of color, anger against systemic racism has boiled over, with protests happening across the country and here in San Mateo. San Mateans of all backgrounds, races and political persuasions have come out to peacefully protest racial injustice and call for change.

What is different, I hope, about this moment is that it will not just be a moment of anger, but a moment of systemic change. People who live the fear and frustration of systemic racism are demanding the dismantling of the double standards by which they live. People like me, who thought of themselves as allies, are acknowledging how much we have to learn about systemic racism in our society and asking how we help to dismantle it. People who didn’t spend much time thinking about racism are beginning to grapple with real-life examples of how others cannot tap into networks of opportunity because of the color of their skin.

This is not a problem with a quick fix. There is not a technology innovation that can make systemic racism go away. The “solution” begins with many tough, exhausting conversations between those who live the fear and frustration and those who need to understand it. It involves a commitment to lifelong learning that turns into daily deeds that begin to change our lives and the lives of those around us.

It continues with acknowledgment that the “system,” not just individual attitudes, needs to change, and that the changes need to be designed with those affected by systemic racism leading the conversation. It ultimately results in opening up core aspects of our society, from education to economic and social levels of advancement, to ensure everyone has equal access and equal opportunity, and that we all benefit from the full value of everyone’s contribution.

Many of the major civil rights milestones in America in the modern era — from women earning the right to vote, to the Voting Rights Act, to the Americans With Disabilities Act, to the recent US Supreme Court decision on the LGBTQ right to equal protection in the workplace — began with the sharing of personal stories and the recognition of common humanity. Discrimination and struggles don’t disappear after a law is signed or a decision is handed down. But they represent a fundamental shift in the momentum toward justice from which there is no turning back.

Let’s make sure that our community, known for being part of the technology innovation miracle of Silicon Valley, also becomes known as a place where we innovate based on our values as well as our business acumen. When we look back on “the pandemic of 2020,” let’s mourn the death and devastation that shook our world. But let’s also remember this as a time when we were jolted by the abrupt, seismic shifts in our lives into challenging basic assumptions and starting to solve “unsolvable” problems at the core of our society. And once we experienced the powerful, positive impact of racial equity on all of our lives, we never went back.

Lisa Diaz Nash is president of the San Mateo Library Board and a candidate for City Council.

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(21) comments

Tommy Tee

No racism in San Mateo, right Conway and Dirk? It's just made up.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/more-sports/woman-still-processing-fathers-covid-19-death-is-shaken-by-racist-rant-in-san-mateo/ar-BB17NQVp?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=mailsignout

Christopher Conway

No you are getting it Tommy two tone

Scott McVicker

I'm sorry, but knowing what we know about this virus (the death rate outside the susceptible population), the ONLY priority is getting the economy and millions of people back to work.

Then to boast about how you, personally have benefited from the absence of those sequestered in their homes / kept away from their normal lives. The only question is: What kind of person exults in other's suffering?

Adding insult, you spin off into the Left's current chew toy – imagined systemic racism.

Conclusion: At no time should you be elected to anything.

Eaadams

How did you put line spaces like that in your comment? My formating always gets stripped. Oh and absolutely correct.

Scott McVicker

I use OpenOffice Writer and format my responses there. Yes, when uploaded, it looks all mushed together, but when finalized it looks as I intended.

Lou

Scott - Thanks for your intellect, wit and wisdom !! Right on!!

Tafhdyd

In recent weeks whenever race is brought up in a letter or comment the devout Trump supporters say they are not racist and that racism is nonexistent in San Mateo while calling those that think otherwise left wing agitators and race baiters. When you hook your wagon to Donald Trump, the xenophobic, bigoted, racist-in-chief, it is hard to convince people that you don’t have a racist bone in your body. A couple of sayings come to mind, “If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas” and “birds of a feather flock together”.

Christopher Conway

I think you are confused, it not our job or are desire to convince you of anything. We just want to stop you malcontents from using divisive rhetoric that is only meant to divide our community and keep us from being united. The difference between Trump supporters and liberal progressives is that we love our country and don't want it to change, liberal progressives hate this country and want it to change. The first thing LP's go after is a country's history, very similar to what Mao did in China.

Tafhdyd

If you don't realize that the devisive rhetoric is coming from Trump then you need to get both your eyes and ears checked. BTW I enlisted and served our great country in '65-'69. When did you serve?

Dirk van Ulden

From 1966 to 2000, drafted by the local board in Old Saybrook, Conn just after 3 months on my new green card.

Christopher Conway

A US Veteran who criticizes people anonymously, I don't think so. Must not have been a very courageous soldier now were you.

Tafhdyd

Christopher,

A citizen that didn't serve criticizing a veteran that did serve. Very high class. Was it bone spurs like your hero that kept you out?

Eaadams

"opening up core aspects of our society, from education to economic and social levels of advancement, to ensure everyone has equal access and equal opportunity" if this is how Lisa Nash feels then does she support extending Measure P in San Mateo. How will she make sure that those exact people that she is discussing aren't further disenfranchised by Measure P?

Tommy Tee

Conway--You accuse her of systemic racism, yet you always claim there's no racism. Which one is it?

Dirk--funny how white people deny racism. It's alive here and everywhere. You need to get out and talk with people. You'll hear plenty of stories about racism.

Cindy Cornell

Christopher Conway, is it that, like your favorite politician, you think if you keep repeating a lie people will believe it? You have yet to show any evidence that there has never been racism in our area. Shampoo, rinse, repeat is disingenuous and insulting to our neighbors who have lived systemic racism.

Dirk van Ulden

I agree with Chris. Cindy is beating a dead horse. How many more sanctimonious citizens do we need to hear from to remind us that the myth of institutional racism is endemic in our County? Enough already!

Christopher Conway

San Mateo is one of the most diverse communities in the world. I grew up here, I know the history. Time for people who never lived here to stop spreading lies about our history and try to tarnish our great history of welcoming people from all over the world. I think San Mateo should be the poster city of what great cities look like regarding race relations and used as a role model for other communities to follow.

Tommy Tee

Conway: Your head-in-the-sand attitude is not helpful. Yes, SM and the county are very diverse, but that doesn't mean there's an absence of racism. Just because you grew up here, it does not make you an expert in racism. Why do you continually deny it and point fingers to "new" people (whatever that means).

Dirk van Ulden

Tommy - do you really believe you are resolving any issues related to racism by hammering on this topic? What are you doing about it? As a white person I am not automatically a racist and that term is grossly overused anyway. Are you saying that racism does not exist among other ethic and racial groups? We need to get over this needless accusation as it is not leading anywhere except to mutual despair.

Christopher Conway

How about you stop babbling and start defining the racism you see in our city and county. Try to be specific. Please keep it a little more current than the Spanish then the Mexicans wiping out the indigenous population in our area. In that case, I would tend to agree with you regarding a history of racism.

Christopher Conway

I wish Ms. Nash good luck in her continuing education as she considers her part in systemic racism. The good news, unlike Ms. Nash, most of us in our county have no need to acknowledge it as we are not racist nor have we ever been racist. I think it is a good first step by Ms. Nash to acknowledge her own short comings regarding systemic racism, that is sign of growth and maturity, especially important to someone tied to our library system and a candidate for city council.

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