Chad Kampbell: Diversity pledge matters

Santa Clarita City Council members listen to members of the community voice their support for various candidates during a special session held at City Hall on Jan. 17 to appoint a fifth member of the City Council following the departure of Dante Acosta in Dec. 2016. Valencia resident William Miranda was selected to fill the seat. Dan Watson/ The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution affirming Santa Clarita’s commitment to diversity at its Feb. 14 meeting. The vote came after the resolution was first proposed at the November City Council meeting last year but initially rejected from placement on the agenda despite appeals from local activists.

The resolution simply states: “The city of Santa Clarita believes that diversity is a critical component of a thriving, successful city, and that commitment to diversity strengthens communities, deepens bonds between neighbors, and underlies the welcoming environment that makes Santa Clarita a great community.”

The passage of the resolution hasn’t garnered as much attention as it deserves. Coverage in the local media of the run-up to the vote was thorough, but coverage of the actual passage itself fell somewhat short.

In order for the resolution to fulfill its intended purpose, it needs to be publicized. Additionally, the City Council deserves some amount of praise for passing the resolution, and local activists deserve recognition for pressing the council to consider this important issue.

Despite the current political environment, our community has a good track record when it comes to inclusion. Before the resolution was passed several of the City Council members individually voiced their support for creating an inclusive environment.

Mayor Smyth specifically mentioned efforts to make sure that all the city’s residents felt welcome in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

This environment is fostered by the efforts of local activist groups as well. The organization Muslims of Santa Clarita (MoSC) have been working to build bridges between residents of Santa Clarita and the city’s growing Muslim population.

They do this by reaching out to local clubs, religious institutions and activist organizations and communicating what their faith means to them and to other members of their community.

At a recent meeting of Santa Clarita Friendly Progressive Families, a few of the presenters from MoSC expressed their gratitude for living in a community as inclusive as Santa Clarita.

Despite the welcoming nature of our city, it is useful for the City Council to go on record regarding the importance of maintaining a diverse and inclusive community.

According to recent FBI reports, hate crimes in the United States increased by 7 percent from 2014 to 2015, mostly fueled by a spike in hate crimes against Muslims. Early indications show that this trend may have continued in 2016 as well.

In an era when hate crimes are increasingly on the rise and the crimes themselves are garnering an increased level of public attention, resolutions like the one just passed provide a useful counter-narrative to the high-profile incidents occurring across the country.

Even though there has been a recent increase in these types of incidents, the United States has a good track record of interfaith relations throughout its history.

Although we are by no means perfect, we have managed to avoid the kind of sectarian conflict seen in places like Ireland, Serbia, Iraq and parts of Africa.

These sorts of proclamations are one way to convey our commitment to that facet of American exceptionalism, but only if they are properly communicated.

Because of this, our local activists deserve credit for raising this issue and our City Council deserves our thanks for passing this resolution. Now let’s publicly recognize the resolution and those who worked hard to get it passed.

Chad Kampbell is a Santa Clarita Valley resident and a member of a local Democratic club.

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