Evelyn Zneimer – District 1
1. The issue of reducing racial bias (conscious and unconscious) and systemic racism is a major concern throughout the nation, and in cities large and small, including South Pasadena.
If you are elected to the South Pasadena City Council, what specific actions will you pursue to reduce unconscious or conscious bias, systemic racism and hate crimes in the city?
How will the effects of these actions be measured?
I am a woman of color and a single mother who raised two wonderful children here in South Pasadena. I was born in the Philippines but was a U.S. citizen by virtue of my father who was Hawaiian and a U.S. citizen. My mother is half Filipino and Spaniard from Madrid, Spain. My parents met while my father was serving in the Navy and stationed in Subic Bay, Philippines. My mother was going to college in Manila at Philippine Women’s College. I am a Pacific Islander with an olive skin. So personally, I suffered racism and discrimination at all levels.
The first thing I would do is educational outreach and collaborate with the South Pasadena Unified School District to incorporate in their curriculum about Black History starting from the elementary schools and work upwards to middle school and high school. The drama department in middle school and high school can incorporate in their theatre repertoire about black history plays. The music department at all levels can also learn to incorporate musical style of the Black People and other people of color.
The second thing would be in the city level, by hiring more black personnel and other people of color. The City Manager should also be educated to be inclusionary and the vetting for city positions should be open to all people of color .
The third thing is to educate and provide adequate training to our police force and making sure that their own personal biases do not interfere with discharging their duties in policing our community.
Everyone should understand that it is a long-term process considering that our nation is still evolving and the ultimate goal is to eliminate conscious and unconscious racism.
This is measured on actual implementation of the three things enumerated above. Evaluations at the end of the semester in our South Pasadena School District and periodic employee evaluations of city staff would reveal how much work has been done and how to proceed to correct deficiencies and learn from the mistakes in order to achieve the elimination of racism.
2. Anti-Racism means actively working to end racism, systemic racism and the oppression of marginalized groups. Describe the specific Anti-Racist action you have taken in the past and how you intend to continue this work moving forward as a City Councilperson of South Pasadena.
Before I came to the United States at age 16, I never knew that there was racism and someone is judged by the color of their skin, their accents and ways of life. When I was studying at UCLA for my undergraduate school, I met a lot of Jewish students and I gravitated to them and started to attend services at the synagogue. I then went to Orthodox School and properly converted to Orthodox Judaism which is the ultraconservative Judaism. I was a practicing Jew and moved to Melrose to be able to walk on Sabbath (Friday nights) to the Orthodox synagogue (Temple Beth Israel) because one is not allowed to work beginning sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. After my divorce, I found out that in my mother’s side were actually Sephardic Jews and practiced their religion secretly in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition. I traveled to Madrid and learned that my great great grandmother and their families pretended to be Catholics but then they would gather in their basements to celebrate their Jewish culture. So not only was I a woman of color, I was also Jewish. While I was growing up in our city in Mindanao, Philippines, there was only one Jewish family and they were somehow excluded by the community because most of them were Catholics and Protestants.
In the past, I’ve always learned to be inclusive because I knew how it felt to be excluded from school parties because you’re not white. By implementing inclusionary hiring practices in the city, I can continue to educate the other Councilmembers and city staff that people of color are just as smart as their counterparts.
3. Please share your views on the Black Lives Matter movement. Are you in support of this movement and actions being taken both locally and nationally?
I am in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I attended in many rallies in South Pasadena from the gatherings at Garfield Park and at City Hall during the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 4th, since the regular Festival of Balloons was canceled, I participated in the march of the Youth Reformers throughout South Pasadena, celebrating Black Lives Matter. It is very important to get the message across to the City Hall and the City Council as well as the residents in South Pasadena. I am the elected City Clerk and as such, I can set an example before my other elected public officials and the police staff in particular. I’ve collaborated with the Youth Reformers in advising them on some issues like the demands for police reform.
As a seasoned volunteer lobbyist for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) since January 2006, I’ve been sent to the Capitol in Sacramento and the Congress in Washington, D.C. yearly to lobby for bills supported by ACSCAN and American Cancer Society (ACS). I can use my lobbying skills to lobby certain bills and talk to the legislators both in the state and national levels. If there are laws eliminating racism, the nation must comply with the laws in all levels of government. Most of all, I think that if we educate the American people starting from Kindergarten, I think that anti-racism will be abolish in the near future. As I said before, it would be a long process, but if everyone is well-informed, educated and willing to listen with an open mind, the results would be different. There should not be violence when trying to protest because Black Lives Matter is a peaceful movement aimed to abolish anti-racism and encourage inclusions of all skin colors. I believe that we are equal in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God.