A hard thing for me during any election season, but particularly elections in the neighborhood of my ancestors, is that it gives me an uncut reminder of how racist America, and in this case Venice, is. Hyper-gaslighting, hyper-coded racism, and hyper-deflection to do anything meaningful that would actually acknowledge and mitigate structural racism on this occupied continent and in this neighborhood.
Lately, online, I’ve been seeing cheap shots against VNC presidential candidate Brian Averill. On the online, hate filled, anonymous profile cesspool that is Nextdoor, I saw a post made about him and VNC VP candidate Alex Nieman. The post had about 5 bullet points suggesting how Averill and Neiman didn’t care about community safety just because those gentlemen didn’t live up to their tiki torch rage levels, didn’t satisfy their bitterness quota for Mike Bonin, or were supportive of their unbridled, unskillful motions and deficient diplomacy with the city that governs them.
That Nextdoor post along with the resident coward profiles also tried to pejoratively brush Averill and Neiman with claims of “Defunding the Police,” as though it was a stigma. Mind you Defund the Police is a slogan representing the call for reallocation of funds from an already over funded law enforcement industrial complex and investing that money into community and social programs (like homelessness solutions and mental health) that address community safety at its root level. Defund the Police is a policy action cry to help address racism and police violence against BIPoC peoples. You know, the perpetuated racism that results in the disproportionate murder of Black and Brown people by police, which in turn sparked nationwide uprisings last year? Yea, that racism.
These people are actually disrespecting a slogan whose goal is to save Black lives from being murdered by police and twisting it into something bad. In case you didn’t realize it, that is racist. No need to use the “n word” or use a blatant slur, just infer that “Defund the Police” is something bad, then sprinkle some “Safe and Clean” on that for a perfect, delicious, coded racism salad loved by all the “not-racist” people in Venice. At any rate, aside from a handful of local activists, Defund the Police type initiatives (read tangible, actionable remedies to racism) are virtually non-existent in Venice policy forums. So, no. Brian and Alex don’t support Defund the Police.
Another recent internet happening, presumably associated with lame cheap shots at Brian Averill and Alex Neiman, is the picture of the other VNC Presidential candidate Jim Murez floating around. The picture is of Jim Murez flipping off women at a 2018 West LA Planning Commission hearing where he was supporting the destruction of the First Baptist Church of Venice to the Penske’s. You know, Trump supporter and Saudi business partner Jay Penske, yea him. Flipping off women a surprise to you? It shouldn’t. He has a record of being misogynistic, most notably at VNC meetings toward other female board members. Some not-racists on the not-racist “Venice (California) Community” Facebook page, aka the page you go to where you can say all the racist and cowardly things you want cause Mike Bravo is banned from there, was seriously saying that it could have been Murez scratching his head. Misogyny enabler anyone?
Murez has played lapdog to Jay Penske at every hearing where we fought to protect Black history in Venice. He along with Robert Thibodeau and some others have undermined our efforts for racial equity at every turn. It case you missed it, that’s another example of racism. Racism even if it’s unconscious, is harmful. Most good natured people would correct their racism enacting behaviours if it was brought to their attention. He has had plenty of opportunities to correct his course, yet he has not. These have been conscious decisions on his part to undermine the Black community of Venice. He also has tried to block the Mexican-American Traquero Monument. Mind you there is virtually no public representation of Black or Brown (Indigenous) people in this community. The little that we do have and try to amplify Murez is always there to block it.
I can go on about his unscrupulous behaviors but I think misogyny and racism points will suffice since they are significant deal breakers for most.. or am I getting ahead of myself? With all the “very fine people” on his slate, here in Venice, and it probably being the yoga capital of Los Angeles, surely all these spiritual nice people wouldn’t enable racists or misogynists. I mean, a lot of Venetians were strong Bernie Sanders supporters and two of his foremost tenets are economic and racial justice right? Venetians also rose up with marches in support of George Floyd as well as anti-Trump rally’s and protests. Surely they are not hypocrites that would consciously support a racist and misogynist ? We shall find out soon.
Brian Averill has shown he can work with ALL sectors of the Venice community. Jim Murez has only shown interest in serving the White and Housed population of Venice. Please go reference the candidate forums. Jim Murez has steady undermined the Black and Indigenous communities of Venice while Brian Averill is the only one endorsed by those communities.
Whichever Venetians want to continue fighting a growing Black and Brown activist community, dissipate any hopes of unity, and continue to make zero to any progress on issues you profess to want solutions for, you will vote for Murez and his “common sense” slate. If you want someone who’s going to harmonize the opposites and consider racial and economic equity in the community decision making process and create environment for the most effective and inclusive solutions possible, you will vote for Brian Averill and the 1 Venice slate.
After all, you don’t enable racism or misogyny, and/or you do yoga and you’re a progressive or a Bernie supporter right?
Drum roll please. We shall see this 2021 VNC Election if Black Lives really do matter to Venice.
Mike Bravo is a 5th generation Venetian, Indigenous Educator, and Youth Mentor. He is also Director of Save Venice and a current board member of the Venice Neighborhood Council.