They came together from all walks of life in Carpinteria at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, gathering first on the four corners of the intersection at Carpinteria and Linden avenues—the very heart of the city—before spilling into the streets with raised placards and voices, demanding justice for the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the untold thousands of other people of color killed by police and disproportionally incarcerated across the nation since forever.
They came with a sense of urgency that now is the time to change deep-seated, systematic “norms” that result in two separate experiences of America, generally: one in which wealth and privilege accrues over generations, and another where the odds of building a middle-class life too often prove impossible to beat.
They came to demonstrate their support for people they may not know, with signs reading “White silence is violence,” and “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”
They came to make uncomfortable demands.
They came to change the world.
Carpinteria High School juniors Laura Flores, Jaqueline Urrutia, Isa Alarcon and Joanna Romero organized the protest to show solidarity with black students in CUSD schools and beyond. However, as Latina students, they had also experienced “racial injustice in the school system,” as Laura Flores explained. Despite representing more than 70 percent of the student body, some Latinx students feel unseen in school curriculum. “We get skipped over a lot,” Flores said.
“I hope the school will hold students accountable,” Jaqueline Urrutia stated, “for using racial slurs and cultural appropriation.”
The student organizers all shared the sentiment that many students are simply unaware of the racist language they may be using, largely because the topic of racism isn’t sufficiently addressed in classes.
At the protest Saturday, what started as a fairly quiet assembly on the four corners of Carpinteria’s main intersection became an impassioned march through downtown demanding citizens to no longer merely disapprove of racist policies and institutions, but actively seek ways to reorganize American life.
Peaceful but vigorous protests across the nation—running to the tens of thousands in Washington D.C. and other major cities—illustrated that people everywhere, even in a place like Carpinteria where concerns of racial injustice can seem worlds away, want to see positive change.
For the Carpinteria students who organized the protest locally, change will start at their school. They addressed the school board at its Tuesday, June 9, meeting, advocating for a K-12 curriculum that will include a wider representation of all people. “I think it’s important at a young age,” Flores said, “to broaden your horizons.”