Tulare County Systemic Racism Forum


Graphic by Carin Mendoza Via Canva

A list of dates and topics of forums that will be held.

Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare County Voices, a community group, led a forum to discuss systemic racism in Tulare County.

The panelists included Dr. Patricia D. López, Dr. Ramar Henderson, Randy Villegas, and Margo Molina Denison. With recent events of protests in 2020 and talk about the history of racism in Tulare County. That is highlighted in the forum with mentions of the past activity of the Ku Klux Klan, this forum was a community discussion on how it affects the well-being of people of color today.

James Ward of the Visalia Times-Delta led the event and began by asking what systemic racism is. Dr. Patricia D. López, an assistant professor at Kremen School of Education at Fresno State, responded by stating that when discussing systemic racism, it is important not to reduce it to individual acts. But to acknowledge that it is the normalization of dynamics within the system of racism that benefits white people. López says that the structure of oppression is the reality of people of color where systemic racism has manifested in laws, policies, the economy, and education.

Another question covered is how systemic racism affects the individual at an interpersonal level. Dr. Ramar Henderson, responds by referring back to David Saelee’s experience at Exeter High School with a history teacher who pulled back his eyes with his fingers to imitate Asian features; then states how the racism that people experience makes people question themselves. Henderson explains that people of color deal with not only physical stress but psychological and emotional stress as seen during the pandemic with Asian communities being attacked within the United States.

The impact of systemic racism on students was addressed by Randy Villegas, a Political Science Professor at COS. Villegas talked about how he has seen through his students how they have been affected by systemic racism in Tulare County during Covid-19. In terms of students questioning if it is something, they are lacking in their education. And how during the pandemic the students were needed to step up as providers to help their families.

The effect on people personally was also discussed, specifically the physical effect of people of color when living with systemic racism. Margo Molina Denison, a Visalia-based family and marriage therapist, concludes that people of color when experiencing stress can tie it to their sense of belonging and this causes them to believe the lies of them not feeling worthy.

For the full in-depth responses from speakers of the forum head to the Visalia Delta Times Facebook where the live stream is saved. This forum is the first of five that revolve around discussing systemic racism in healthcare, education, housing, and in the workplace. Each hosted by the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare County Voices will go live on Times-Delta Facebook and the Visalia Delta Times Youtube channel.