last summer The City Council invited applications for the newly created Arts
& Culture Commission. Fifteen people
applied for seven seats, submitted lengthy, detailed applications and underwent
personal interviews with the Mayor & City Council. Appointments, we were told, would come in the
end of Sept.
we learn: “City Council directed staff to
reopen the application recruitment process for the Commission on Culture &
the Arts to garner specific interest from members of the City’s diverse
What is the meaning of
those words? What is a cultural Institution?
My synagogue? Will city staff approach the congregation of B’nai Israel up on
Nebraska Street to garner interest for the Arts & Culture Commission? Or,
is it something else they’re looking for?
Let’s speak plain English. It seems to me what city council really wants
is black people, Filipino people, Latino people, Asian People – people who
represent the true demographics of Vallejo. Where are those diverse cultural
institutional members when the city needs them?
And why doesn’t the city say what it really wants?
I think it’s for reasons
we all know only too well. They want to
be politically correct; but how can
our city staff deal with a problem they call by another name?
I arrived in Vallejo I’ve been asking people why it is I see only white people
at arts & cultural events? (Food
& Music are exceptions.) Why is the downtown arts group primarily, if not completely,
the diverse city I’m told Vallejo is?
To my question, the same answer always comes back, “We’ve been dealing with this for a long
time; they are invited; everyone is welcome; if they don’t come it’s not our
our fault? Maybe, in another world where
everything is perfect, worked as it should, and everybody just got along, that
response might hold water, but not in my world.
The world I live in is fraught with racism & bigotry that runs rampant
through society on every level.
Here’s my proposal for dealing with
this very real important problem.
- Be fair; respect the democratic
process: choose seven from among the fifteen original applicants regardless of
race, religion, color, or creed (whatever that is). Instruct them on the
demographics of Vallejo and explain why you’re not satisfied with the
commission being comprised of only white people.
- Charge them with the task of correcting
this problem within the ranks of the Commission, in its committees & sub-committees,
among all participants. Set a deadline by
which time they must demonstrate how they are solving the problem, the results
of their efforts, and the effects thereof.
If the council is satisfied, so be it.
If not, the city council reserves the right to close down the
commission, and Vallejo will live again in the chaos that comes without an Arts
We must learn to live together. If we won’t do it ourselves, we must be made
to do it.