Sunday, July 27, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Local group reaches out to enhance cultural understanding

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig welcomes guests to a forum last week hosted by the Yolo DA's Multi-Cultural Community Council. At left is Witty Singh, a community member who spoke on behalf of the Sikh Coalition. Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | March 06, 2013 |

Did you know that Sikhs have five articles of faith that are required to be worn by the devout, including a small dagger, used as a last resort to protect the defenseless against violent acts?

There’s a chance (to avoid absolutes) that the answer is no. And it’s blind spots like those that Yolo County’s Multi-Cultural Community Council plans to highlight for local residents and law enforcement officers.

The hope is to solidify understanding — and fracture misconceptions — of various populations in recurrent forums. District Attorney Jeff Reisig developed the committee’s concept, and assembled more than 10 longtime activists as volunteers for its operation.

“The whole purpose is to have a vehicle in place to encourage open discussion between diverse groups of people, the D.A., and law enforcement,” Reisig said, “because there isn’t a lot of direct communication on a regular basis.”

Jesse Ortiz, a Woodland Community College professor who chairs the Multi-Cultural Community Council, began brainstorming with Reisig in summer 2012 to establish more consistent back-and-forth understanding.

In his 30 years of involvement with issues of cultural understanding in Yolo County, Ortiz said this is the first time he has been aware of a Yolo County elected official stepping forward to enhance long-term communication.

The cooperation has been imperative in the objective of “continuing the dialogue on cultural awareness, as it relates to the criminal justice system,” Ortiz said.

He and co-chairperson Carlos Matos have been tasked with organizing a series of public convocations, the first of which took place Thursday night at Woodland Community College.

About 90 community members attended the informational presentation and question-and-answer session about Sikhism and Islam. The turnout satisfied Ortiz, who said it’s not about the number of attendees but about the quality of information they leave with.

“If one person that has attended clears up a negative misconception or stereotype of a certain group of people, I think that it has been successful,” Ortiz said.

Also in the audience for Thursday’s talk were police officers from Woodland, Davis, Winters and West Sacramento, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol. More than a dozen officials, in uniform, lined the back wall of the small conference room.

Reisig said each police chief agreed it would be essential for law enforcement to be present the discussion. He attested to their — and his own — commitment to remaining sensitive to the issues introduced:

“It will matter when they’re making a car stop, or when they’re out in the community contacting people. It was the group’s decision to get as many cops out here as we can, because the more they understand, the better it will be for all of us.

“I learned a lot tonight too, and that’s good,” Reisig continued. “I mean, issues come up all the time in the D.A.’s Office where distinctions between cultures, religions and ethnic groups are important.”

An example of a take-home lesson was delivered by Witty Singh, who represented the Sikh community, in his description of etiquette for turbans worn by Sikh men and women. As the turban is an important part of their identity, it is not to be touched by others without permission.

“Beyond being super-fashionable,” Singh said, prompting laughs, “this is a required article of our faith.”

Khalid Saeed, a longtime Woodland resident and national president of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, spent much of his time at the microphone correcting the misinformation that has been disseminated about Islam.

He spoke of “Islamophobia” in America, using a report released by the Center for American Progress called “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network In America.” It found that $42 million from seven foundations had fueled the rise of this hate in the past 10 years.

“Muslims don’t have any other way to reach out to the community, aside from times like this,” said Saeed, who estimated there are at least 2,000 Muslims living in Woodland alone. “Every opportunity is appreciated, and welcomed by us.”

Next to have their voices heard will be Native Americans, when members of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation present at the same venue on Thursday, May 16. Upcoming forums also include the Chicano/Latino, African-American, Ukrainian and Asian communities.

The Multi-Cultural Community Council is proposing a Yolo County high school discussion sometime in 2014, to involve young people in a conversation about race relations.

Even with the number of activities planned, Ortiz said, there is never going to be a cure-all for the discrimination that has plagued history. However, that doesn’t make these efforts pointless, he added.

“We haven’t been able to get rid of it in more than 200 years, so I don’t believe our council will be able to,” Ortiz said. “But we can still make some improvements on developing better relationships, inclusion and understanding of people of color.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Zombies by rail: It’s not just a show, it’s a trip

    By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Community gardens stretch food dollars, study finds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Humphrey Fellows will host Global Forum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Fatal Covell Boulevard crash recalled in court

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Rairdan joins race for Davis school board

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    State can’t say if it’s meeting drought goal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Wildfire spurs evacuation of 700 homes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Israel extends Gaza truce through Sunday

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    New ordinance aims to prevent nut thefts from orchards

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Luna family matriarch turns 100

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Freeway crash injures two drivers

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

     
    Museum wants your old Davis High School yearbooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Mace Innovation Center is focus of meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Affordable housing forum planned in Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
     
    Discussion of oil by rail EIR planned Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    State awards $40,000 for historic property survey

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A8

     
    Protesters gather at Primate Center

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8

    Vanguard hosts economic development director

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Get a sneak peek at documentary trailer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Davis Chamber Choir sings short summer program

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9

    Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A9

     
    At the Pond: From Davis, it’s easy to get back to nature

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Tickets on sale now for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Forum

    Feels like a million miles away

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

     
    Check doctors’ vitals before they check yours

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Here’s what you need for a perfect wedding

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

     
    Husband’s let himself go

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A14

     
    Pat Oliphant cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A16

    So, what’s in a week’s worth of waste?

    By Michelle Millet | From Page: A16

     
    Questions on water rights

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

    Golf tourney was a big success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A16

     
    Campus turns on the tap

    By Our View | From Page: A16

    New playground is wonderful

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A17

     
    Just Us in Davis: Little Rock Nine hero to celebrate with Davis youths

    By Jann L. Murray-Garcia | From Page: A17 | Gallery

    We can do more to help

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A17

     
    .

    Sports

    New Korematsu teacher is an American Ninja Warrior

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sutherland presents 1st clinic; golf column on its way

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Gray wins 6th straight, A’s 4 HRs beat Texas 5-1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Kershaw throws 2-hitter as Dodgers beat Giants 5-0

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Furyk opens 3-shot lead in Canadian Open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Nibali set to cruise to Tour victory

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Area sports briefs: River Cats take Game 1 of doubleheader

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Companies will collaborate on crop insect control

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

     
    Developer’s commitments: affordable and green

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13 | Gallery

    UC Davis Health System earns ‘Most Wired’ award

    By Charles Casey | From Page: A15

     
    Bartholomew hires new associate

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A15

     
    Go back to school with Great Clips

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

    Lagerstrom represents Davis at Mary Kay seminar

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Jonathan Eric Hollander

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Carlton Hope Meister

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, July 27, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A6