The NAACP is the oldest, largest and most widely recognized civil rights organization in the United States. We are nonpartisan, and we do not endorse candidates for political office at any level. That being said, when the Monterey County Weekly’s editorial board endorsed and applauded a Seaside mayoral candidate for “doing something right” and “ticking off the old guard of Black leadership in the city,” the Monterey County NAACP realized that we could not remain silent while one of our own local media outlets publicizes a political endorsement with words that we find to be insulting, condescending and that can be construed as racist.

Monterey County Weekly, you have our attention, and we are definitely offended.

In one single sentence, you have chosen to make this about race. You have snidely looked down your noses at the “old guard of Black leadership” in our community. And we are here to remind you to watch your tone when you speak about our former mayors, former city council members, current ministers, philanthropists, businessmen, long-time Black residents, and Executive Committee members of the Monterey County NAACP.

We are extremely proud of their history and the representation of strong Black leadership that has been pervasive and instrumental in keeping the Seaside Black community viable on the Monterey Peninsula for decades.

The current growing pains experienced by Seaside are being exacerbated by random groups of interlopers who seem to be studying from the Gentrification for Dummies handbook.

Oh, yes. We see you.

The future of Seaside depends on the strength of its citizens and its leadership working hand in hand to help the city grow. We have a very strong and devoted group of residents who along with the Monterey County NAACP are dedicated to make this happen. We have learned our lessons well from the “old guard of Black leadership.” We trust and admire their legacies and their sacrifices. They have also trained us not to allow history to repeat itself.

Once upon a time, Black soldiers were not allowed to purchase homes across the bay in Pacific Grove. They were only allowed to buy in Seaside. Over the years, we’ve gritted our teeth as we’ve watched other Peninsula cities thrive and treat our city as a second-class citizen. We have the same beautiful views that residents in Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove have, yet we are often overlooked when prime real estate on the Monterey Peninsula is mentioned. Why? Not because of poor leadership or vision, but because there are segments of the local population surrounding us who feel the need to, as Reverend Al Sharpton eloquently stated, “Keep your knee on our necks” and hinder our growth.

Rest assured, our worth and our history have been underestimated and undermined for the last time.

Your misrepresentation of the life-long accomplishments of Seaside’s “old guard of Black leadership” simply shined the spotlight on many of our local heroes like former Mayor Don Jordan, Monterey County NAACP President Josh Stewart, Helen Rucker, Ruthie Watts, and the late Reverend H.H. Lusk, Sr., just to name a few. Words have tremendous power, but yours will do nothing to diminish their legacies.

The only thing you have accomplished is to cause us to question OUR loyalty to YOU as a news source.

We will not beg you for an apology or a retraction. It is actually a blessing in disguise that you have shown us your true colors. Trying to downplay our history and attempts to minimize and erase the accomplishments of our local heroes is a very old game that can only be won if we allow it.

On this particular matter, we relinquish our right to remain silent. And we will continue to stand up and speak out against any entity who has the audacity to sully the good names and reputations of the numerous great Black leaders, past and present, in this community.

Seaside’s Black history and Black leadership matters!

Note from the Weekly’s editorial board:

In our Oct. 8 endorsement of Jon Wizard for mayor of Seaside, we commended him for taking on the old guard of political leadership. We regrettably described that as the old guard of Black leadership in the city. That description was both unnecessary and, as the NAACP points out, offensive.

The Weekly stands with the NAACP in its goals to end racism and racial discrimination, reform the criminal justice system and end mass incarceration, and to promote equality and civic engagement. We believe Wizard is the best candidate to advance these goals in Seaside. We stand by our endorsement of Wizard for Seaside mayor (and Tinisha Dunn and Dave Pacheco for council).

(1) comment

Steven Goings

Having witnessed many dust-ups between the Weekly and other activists and activist groups over the years, I know that it is no small feat getting the periodical to walk back any editorial statements, so this is undoubtedly a win for the NAACP and the Ministerial Alliance.

While perhaps the MC Weekly will be a little less cavalier about "ticking off" our "our old guard of black leadership" in the future, I am not yet convinced that the Editorial Board actually understands its offense. In addition to releasing their new statement and printing the NAACP editorial, the paper edited the original article by simply removing "...of black". "Ticking off...the old guard of black leadership in the city" now simply reads, "the old guard leadership."

The Monterey County Weekly agrees that the original language was "unnecessary and offensive" but as far as I know, there has been no actual public APOLOGY in print or otherwise. Furthermore, simply removing the word "black" from the sentence does nothing to change the original tone and intent. Ticking off the old guard leadership is still something to be lauded, there is still sufficient disrespect of that leadership to describe their recall attempt (which I too am opposed to) as "half-assed" and finally, the Editorial Board remains as oblivious to the blatant ageism of the old guard reference as they were to the original latent racism in the old guard of Black leadership reference. To be clear, "old guard" means: "those people in an organization or society who oppose change and whose beliefs and ideas belong to a period in the past."

It seems to me that given the power of the NAACP brand, the MC Weekly is in "cover your ass" mode. It is doing what it can to put out the fire before it spreads. However, unless and until the MC Weekly gets that it is the overall tone of disrespect for a revered segment of the Black community -- and not simply naming that segment "Black" -- that is the source of the upset, they will continue to blithely toss flaming matchsticks onto the still flammable tinder of racial and other social sensitivities in Monterey County.

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