Wendy Sims-Moten, a member of the Santa Barbara Unified School District board of education, talks about “anti-Blackness” in schools, and calls on the district to do better to make kids and families feel safe.

“I am drawing a line in the sand right now,” Sims-Moten says in the Santa Barbara Talks podcast. “But if we don’t do what we need to do, all we can, in this moment to start doing what we need to do, you know it’s hard to do that, when will we ever do it?”

Sims-Moten first spoke out publicly about the way the district is handling charges of racism, discrimination and anti-Blackness at last Tuesday’s board meeting. She said that racism in schools needs to stop. 

“At that moment, I felt so vulnerable and so exposed,” Sims-Moten said. “But I wasn’t less committed in my conviction of moving forward.”

 In February, more than a dozen people, including the parent of the victim, told the board about a racist incident directed at a Black student at Santa Barbara Junior High School.

Some members spoke Tuesday night about a separate TikTok video in which Black students were targets of racist attacks. Several other incidents have been reported to the district and the board.

Members of Healing Justice SB, and other members of the public have criticized the district and the board for their slow response, choosing to let families across the district know of the violence only after getting pressured at board meetings, and for erasing contributions of Black individuals. 

In the podcast, Sims-Moten talks about the term anti-Blackness.

“It feels, from a Black person’s perspective, you are not really understanding the extra that goes on when it is perpetuated on a Black person,” Sims-Moten said. “I can’t explain it, but it’s extra. And when you don’t call out that extra part, that feels like it’s anti, like we are invisible.”

She also answers questions about the cultural proficiency and anti-bias training that the district used to provide through an outside contract with Just Communities, and whether halting that effort has played any role in the current climate. 

“At this point, we are revisiting work about anti-bias,” Sims-Moten said. 

This hour-long podcast dives deep into the issues facing the district and the community. 

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